26 August 2014, Mullaitvu District, Sri Lanka: The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), in partnership with Save the Children Japan, is supporting the development of preschool education in Sri Lanka’s conflict affected Northern Province.
With funding from the Government of Japan, this joint initiative is providing training for 21 preschool teachers on child-friendly teaching methods in 7 preschools in Mullaitivu District. The project is also providing training on overall pre-school management to over 70 members of the Management Committees in the 7 preschools. Currently, UN-Habitat is supporting communities to reconstruct 12 preschools in Mullaitivu District with funding from the Government of Japan. This programme will provide 380 preschool children with access to high quality pre-school education in new facilities.
The three decades of conflict in Sri Lanka destroyed vital community infrastructure in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. In January 2013, UN-Habitat, with funding from the Government of Japan, commenced the Rehabilitation of Community Infrastructure and Facilities in the Conflict Affected Areas in Northern Province, Sri Lanka (RCIF) project, followed by the Rehabilitation of Community Infrastructure, Improvement of Livelihood, and Empowerment of Women in Northern and Eastern Provinces project in 2014. This programme is implemented in the districts of Killinochchi, Mullaitvu, Mannar and Batticaloa. These projects support returnees with the reconstruction of vital community infrastructure including internal access roads, drainage systems, pre-schools and multipurpose community centres.
The preschools are being constructed using a participatory process of construction. Selected Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in each village is responsible for the construction of the preschool, while UN-Habitat provides technical assistance including building designs and Bills of Quantities (BOQs). The construction work is closely monitored by UN-Habitat and community members.
To support the provision of the new facilities, Save the Children Japan is providing training for preschool teachers on the latest teaching methods, including a 10 month pre-school Diploma course. Funding for the training component has been provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the “Sustainable Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Management Project in Northern Sri Lanka”.
In October 2013, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between UN-Habitat and Save the Children Japan to coordinate the programmes. The impact on the lives of children due to this initiative is already apparent. With the preschools located in close proximity to their homes, the parents and children have easy access to the preschools and less distance to travel. The improved early learning facilities and management systems are contributing towards more efficiently run, modern preschools in Mullaitivu district.