‘Learning for Empathy’ – Inaugural seminar and the launch of the project

With the generous contribution of the Government of Japan, the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO  in collaboration with the UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office and supported by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok on 25 September 2020 launched the project, ‘Learning for Empathy: A teacher exchange and support program’ at the Ministry of Education in “Isurupaya”, Battaramulla.

On the invitation of Dr P. N. Meegaswatte, Secretary-General, Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, the Chief Guest, Hon’ble Susil Premajayantha, State Minister of Educational Reforms graced the event, along with the Guest of Honour H.E. Akira Sugiyama, Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka.

The launch event also saw the participation of Hon. Seetha Arambepola, M.P., State Minister for Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation,  Prof. Kapila Perera, Secretary of Education and Vice-Chairperson of Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, State Secretary for Educational Reforms, Dr. Upali Sedera, as well as dignitaries from India and those representing other regional countries participating in this project, namely Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan, including Ministry of Education officials, principals, teachers and students from 50 schools.

The Chief Guest, Hon’ble Susil Premajayantha in his address expressed his appreciation for the support extended by the Government of Japan and the positive impact of the project on principals, teachers and students. Dr P. N. Meegaswatte in his remarks, emphasized the importance of learning empathy for the promotion of peace, understanding and prevention of violence and solicited support from the stakeholders including the Ministry of Education in taking the project forward on a national level.

H.E. Akira Sugiyama expressed his thanks to the Sri Lankan National Commission for organising the event.  Reflecting on the  success of the teacher exchange program so far he reiterated that if the circumstances of COVID-19 permit, Japan hopes to invite teachers and students selected from all four countries under this project including from Sri Lanka early next year for a study visit to Japan to ascertain how it is being implemented and practised in Japan and to exchange views.