Special education programmes for ex-combatants

The Government of Sri Lanka under directives of H.E President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already laid out a key aspect of the roadmap to reconciliation by initiating the rehabilitation of ex-LTTE combatants whilst getting them absorbed into the countrys development drive.

During the final phase of the humanitarian mission (the worlds largest hostage rescue mission) launched by the security forces, over 250,000 civilians who were held hostage by LTTE terrorists were rescued. Over 12,000 ex-LTTE combatants had later surrendered themselves to the security forces. The Sri Lankan government under direct supervision of Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa designed a comprehensive programme to rehabilitate those ex-combatants at the Rehabilitation Centers established in Jaffna and Vavuniya.

Accordingly, special education programmes were introduced for the ex-combatants to continue their studies- preparing them for the G.C.E Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations. With the assistance of the Vavuniya zonal educational office, the program began at the Punthottam training center for females while a similar program for males was held at the Tamil primary school in Vavuniya

An official of the Rehabilitation Commissioners office said that 120 males and 48 females are preparing to sit the G.C.E O/L examination in December 2010. In addition, 228 males and 98 females who underwent specially designed education programmes sat the G.C.E A/L Examination in August 2010. According to statistics, 16 ex-combatants including 8 males are continuing their studies in the bio-science stream, 12 including 2 females in the maths stream, 65 including 13 females in the commerce stream while 232 including 75 females are preparing to sit the A/L exam in the arts and humanities stream.

Principal of the female training center in Punthottam, Mrs Renuka Seyaruban, said that 21 professional teachers assigned by the Vavuniya zonal education office are currently contributing their maximum to make the program a success. "The Vavuniya zonal education center organized a series of seminars to further enhance the program and the ex-combatants are exceedingly keen on the program as it is a great opportunity for them to achieve a brighter future" she further said.

K Sangeetha, 23 years of age, who is preparing to sit the G.C.E O/L examination this year expressing her views, paid gratitude on the Government and security forces for initiating such programs. "My home town is Jaffna with six members in my family. I studied at Wallipuram primary school and stayed at the school hostel. LTTE forcibly recruited us for the outfit and I served at LTTEs medical corps for four months. Luckily, I was able to escape the outfit and managed to return to my home. Following the defeat of the LTTE organization I surrendered myself to the security forces" she said.

"Now I can continue my studies. Though I cant go back to school as I am overage, the Army provides all necessary facilities here for us to continue our studies. My ambition is to become a nurse after getting through O/L exam" she further said.