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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2962

Sri Lanka: National reconciliation through Harmony Centres

By-Leel Pathirana

Sri Lanka, a post war country recovering from thirty years of internal conflict, though it has been achieved a sustainable development, the greatest challenge Sri Lanka faces presently is to maintain the peace and stability it has achieved.

For the purpose of promote and maintaining peace and harmony among the all communities, particularly the young generations who are waiting to govern the country in the future, and a national reconciliation programme has been on process covering all 25 districts of the nine provinces.

Through a Harmony Centre establish in each district. It is pivotal to have a wider national reconciliation program covering all island among all communities, not only between Sinhalese & Tamils. The true objectives of the Harmony Centres are to educate young generations make aware themselves, encourage and to dispel from heart, hate, suspicion, or mistrust among their fellow communities and lead to avoid future

Although political violence ended in Sri Lanka in May 2009, the ideologies of communalism and sectarianism remain in the fringes of Sri Lankan society. Taking peace for granted and failure to invest in social harmony will return Sri Lanka to social unrest and conflict. Community initiatives are imperative in advancing the spirit of reconciliation as social harmony cannot be achieved by the directives of the state alone.

Through Harmony Centres at the district-level communities across Sri Lanka can engage actively in initiatives in reconciliation by developing the central concepts, strategies, and models to promote diversity and coexistence and prevent future conflict in Sri Lanka. The Harmony Centre is to cultivate a work environment of professionalism, integrity, and performance, and ensure that these characteristics are reflected in the programmes it will undertake.

Harmony Clubs are to be established in schools as we are obliged to produce intellectually developed and morally responsible young people are well-adjusted to the multicultural and multiethnic dynamics and heritage of the nation and the world. Although the specific nature and design of programmes undertaken by a Harmony Club will be wholly directed by the school management, Harmony Clubs will be linked to the district Harmony Centre so that Clubs can benefit from the guidance and resources of the respective community Harmony Centre. The Harmony Centres and Clubs aim to provide programmes which empower individuals and students to become meaningful contributors to the national reconciliation process as well as provide the stage and space necessary to build authentic relationships of trust and respect between individuals of diverse groups.

Harmony Centre programmes are designed to educate and connect individuals so that elements of hate, prejudice, suspicion, or mistrust that may remain are removed from the hearts of individuals. The community Harmony Centres and school Harmony Clubs are to create platforms at the level of the community and school respectively to better understand the nation’s challenges and contribute actively towards the nation’s peace and stability and building a harmonious Sri Lanka.

The district centre are to be set up in all twenty five districts as, Ampara, Anuradhapura,Badulla,Batticaloa,Colombo,Galle,Gampaha,Hambantota,Jaffna,Kalutara,Kandy,Kegalle,Kilinochchi,Kurunegala,Mannar,Matale,Matara,Moneragala,Mullaitivu,Nuwara Eliya, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam, Ratnapura, Trincomalee, Vavuniya

The district Harmony Centres are to be independently managed by Director and Coordinators of each Harmony Centre in consultation with the District Advisory Committee of Harmony Centres. To achieve its objectives the Harmony Centre of each community is to formally and informally educate and connect the local community through its eight core programmes: (1) Research and Training, (2) Resource Centre, (3) Cultural Programmes, (4) Educational Programmes, (5) Sports and Entertainment, (6) Community Assistance, (7) Health and Wellbeing, and (8) the Online Harmony Centre.


1. To build and sustain the in-house research capacity and capabilities of the Harmony Centres by conducting research and training programmes to equip members with the necessary knowledge and skills.

2. To provide educational resources and facilities for learning for community members and school Harmony Club members with an enhanced understanding of:

(i) the different ethnicities, cultures, and religious groups of Sri Lanka and the world

(ii) the Sri Lankan conflict, global issues and other conflicts of the world, Peace Education, and subjects which facilitate successful entry into the national economy

3. To conduct cultural and educational programmes to engage and educate the local community in diverse cultures and harmonious living and encourage collaboration and interaction between communities and schools in different parts of Sri Lanka.

4. To conduct sports and entertainment programmes to encourage collaboration and interaction between communities and schools in different parts of Sri Lanka and facilitate the cultivation of genuine friendships between individuals of diverse communities.

5. To assist the development of Harmony Clubs in schools in the district and assist local communities in other meaningful ways to contribute to the national reconciliation process.

6. To build an online platform for collaboration and interaction between different universities and diverse communities and an online repository of research, knowledge, and information generated by the different programmes of the Harmony Centre.

Pilot Project: Harmony Centre in Killinochchi

The pilot project in establishing Harmony Centres will be implemented in the northern district of Killinochchi. The Harmony Centre in Killinochchi is presently in the process of being established in a building in the heart of the Kilinochchi town next to the Killinochchi District and Magistrate Court complex. The building is being renovated to be utilized permanently by the Harmony Centre. A new building is being built for the Resource Centre.

Facilities currently available in the Killinochchi Harmony Centre include:

• Open Movie Theater (every Saturday a Free Movie is screened for the public which is very popular)

• An Indoor Gymnasium with a Badminton Court (where youths come and play every day)

• Jogging Track

The Killinochchi Harmony Centre has undertaken the conducting of an English Language course as a part of its Educational Programme and classes commenced in May 2013. The Resource Centre is due to open by end of 2013. The Killinochchi Harmony Centre will also be assisting in the establishment of Harmony Clubs in the district schools.

The National Reconciliation Unit of the Office of the Adviser on Reconciliation to the President at the Presidential Secretariat is to act as the advisory body for the Harmony Centres and will play an advisory role in the policy planning of the programmes implemented by the Harmony Centres. Further, key ministries will co ordinate and providing information and training as collaborative bodies. Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development, Ministry of Indigenous Medicine, Ministry of Culture and Arts, Ministry of Sports, The Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute will support in developing plans, monitoring and evaluating the activities of the Harmony Centres.

In support for the ongoing project for creating harmony centres in the island, University of Peradeniya is organizing an event to promote inter-ethnic and inter religious harmony on 26th of July.

- Asian Tribune -

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