Schools help Sri Lanka achieve SDGs | Sunday Observer

Schools help Sri Lanka achieve SDGs

8 April, 2018
Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sunil Hettiarachchi at the event
Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sunil Hettiarachchi at the event

Schools numbering 50 islandwide, received financial grants and technical support to carry out their projects to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), recently in Colombo. Over 700 schools submitted their proposals to the United Nations, and were evaluated by the partners of the campaign. Of the 700 project proposals, 50 SDG-centered proposals were selected representing the 25 Districts of Sri Lanka. These schools will now be linked with relevant experts and institutions, enhancing the students’ capacity to mobilize the communities around to help Sri Lanka achieve the SDGs.

The United Nations and the Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Hatton National Bank launched the ‘SDG Action Campaign’ last year. In 2015, countries adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved by 2030. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and the people.

The SDGs cover a broad range of social and economic development issues. These include poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice. Under these goals, students from different schools have proposed a project. Under the goal “No Poverty”, the students of Koonwewa Maha Vidyalaya, Kurunegala, are cultivating plants according to the suitability of the soil, and have initiated multiple programs, engaging farmers’ associations in Kurunagala.

Based on goal number two, “Zero Hunger”, the students of Ambegoda Sri Sangabodhi Maha Vidyalaya, Badulla, are creating a carbon based fertilizer and developing a model farm on barren land unused by farmers, so that it acts as a key tool where you lead by example. They will engage with the Central Environmental Authority, the Agriculture Department, Old Boys’ Association and a multitude of different stakeholders, to achieve their goal.

The students of K.B. Rathnayaka Maha Vidyalaya, Anuradhapura will create a herbal garden at the entrance to the school, and name the herbal plants and encourage students to replicate these gardens back in their homes, thus creating an experience sharing session from the parents to the kids under the goal, “Quality Education.”

Under the goal of “Good Health and Wellbeing”, the students of Kalmadu Maha Vidyalaya, Vavuniya, will purchase items needed, e.g. seeds and other equipment, to construct a garden. In this manner, 50 schools in the island will undertake different projects to achieve the SDGs under each sustainable development goal.

The SGD campaign was launched on October 24, 2017 commemorating UN Day. “To launch the ‘SDG Action Campaign’, a program to educate and encourage students to design and implement an SDG based project in their communities, applications were called from schools across the country. Among many applicants 50 schools with the best project proposals were selected. This campaign will support student-led initiatives towards achieving the SDGs. The 50 schools selected received financial grants and technical assistance. They received the seed funding and mentoring to kick start their sustainability projects,” said Niroshini Fernando, Communications Officer, United Nations Sri Lanka.

Speaking about the students’ role in contributing to the SDGs, Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sunil Hettiarachchi said, “This student led campaign shows good potential to serve as an excellent platform to pave the path towards achieving the SDGs in Sri Lanka”.

Speaking about the Campaign, Director, ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives and the UN Communications Group Chair, Simrin Singh said, “Taking action for the SDGs is a collective effort. From the youngest student to the most experienced teacher, schools play an important role in spreading the word that everyone has a responsibility. The question is no longer whether you want your classroom to connect to the world; the question now is simply, When?”

Speaking about the role of the private sector, Chief Human Resource Officer/ Deputy General Manager, Hatton National Bank, L Chiranthi Cooray said, “At the HNB we are pleased to support young Sri Lankans to be part of and practically experience sustainable activities and their results. This program would be extremely significant to create awareness on the SDG and the triple bottom line for a sustainable planet.”

“Engaging youth is vital to Sri Lanka achieving sustainable development to eradicate poverty, address climate change and build peaceful, inclusive societies for all. These projects would help students raise awareness of SDGs in their communities and also contribute to the 2030 Agenda. In this regard, ensuring the sustainability of these projects is imperative” he said.

Also speaking, Additional Secretary to the President, Rohana Keerthi Dissanayake said, “This campaign recognizes the prominent role schoolchildren play in building the country with the concept of the sustainable development. President Maithripala Sirisena and the Government of Sri Lanka stand committed to support this program to ensure that these projects are sustainable, reaching all communities across the country.”