UNICEF Sri Lanka
From the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), this case study examines the child-friendly schools (CFS) approach in Sri Lanka - where, since 2002, UNICEF Sri Lanka has been working closely with th
UNICEF website, February 15 2011; and "New Child-friendly Schools Bring New Hope to Communities in Sri Lanka", by Sarah Crowe and Mervyn Fletcher, July 15 2010. Image credit: © UNICEF Sri Lanka/2010/Crowe
Established in 2003, the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) is a national media development institute based in Colombo working to develop Sri Lankan journalism.
In the context of the recent ethnic conflict, the SLPI's approach is to serve Sri Lanka as a whole: in the diploma and other training courses, when receiving complaints, and when advocating for professional journalism. Although not an explicit objective, the SLPI believes that its approach helps bridge divisions across the nation. The SLPI strives to maintain good governance, human rights, gender equity, and poverty alleviation. SLPI operates from the strong belief that a diverse, professional, and vibrant media can be critical in times of conflict.
SLPI has 4 operational arms:
- Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ) - conducts 3 core programmes: the one-year diploma course for new entrants in journalism, the mid-career programme for working journalists, and the training programme for regional correspondents. This involves curriculum development, training of staff, and investment in technology.
- Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL) - works to resolve disputes between the print media and the public and advocates for more responsible, ethical journalism. In its efforts to improve confidence and awareness of stakeholders about the PCCSL as well as the Code of Ethics it adopts (The Code of Professional Practice of The Editors' Guild of Sri Lanka [PDF]), the PCCSL conducts networking with key civil society organisations in an effort to expand its membership. Given the fact that there is strong support for a self-regulatory body in Sri Lanka, the PCCSL also plans to explore possibilities of opening up for third-party complaints, as well as initiating complaints on its own.
- Advocacy and Free Media Division - conducts programmes on an annual basis. While networking with like-minded local and international organisations, it also campaigns on media law reforms in Sri Lanka.
- Media Resource Centre (MRC) - offers facilities and training to support the financial sustainability of SLPI. MRC offers space for workshops, seminars, meetings, press conferences, and exhibitions. It also functions as a place of gathering for journalists. Rental services at the MRC include: audio-visual equipment, TV and audio production facilities, computer labs, film screening halls, and an auditorium with multimedia facilities. MRC also offers its own workshops on: how to write a press release; how to write an article; how to conduct an interview and be interviewed; how to take a good photo; how to produce a radio show; and how to write scripts.
Examples of past initiatives include: SLPI took the lead in a joint media effort and managed to block an announced censorship through the re-introduction of the Press Council in June 2007. SLPI also played a role in bringing newsprint to Jaffna in 2007 when the Jaffna papers were about to close down due to lack of newsprint. In the wake of another attempt by the government to formulate a "media policy," SLPI was the key networking point for all the media activist groups to formulate a united response.
Media Development, Rights.
According to one of SLPI's funders (Sweden-based Fojo Media Institute), journalism in Sri Lanka is under siege. Reporters are murdered, media activists are forced into exile, and newsrooms are burnt. Currently, Sri Lanka is ranked as number 165 on Reporters without Borders press freedom index - making it the lowest ranked democracy in the world. Although the political situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated and the media has limited space to produce quality journalism, Fojo claims that Sri Lankan press, radio, and TV failed to remain independent during the conflict. Editors were appointed on political merits, and reporters who tried to publish balanced and impartial journalism risked their lives. Instead of balanced, impartial, and accurate reporting, the media supported one side or the other in the conflict. In many ways, these patterns have continued after the end of the armed conflict in May 2009. SLPI is working to change this.
Funders include the Fojo Media Institute, Danida, and Sida - the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
PACT draws upon use of the internet to create a historical narrative that comes alive through new media. Visitors to the PACT website participate in the creation of an interactive research tool that records history. Centred around the creation of a timeline of events stretching from the 1800s to the present day, it features incidents and processes that are thought to be vital markers of the ebb and flow of Sri Lanka's conflict. In an effort to make the 420 entries (as of this writing) aspects of what is meant to be a living conversation, CEPA actively elicits comments and feedback - in the form of details of events and processes that have been left out, or alternative narratives and perspectives on existing events to enrich what is already on the site.
In short, PACT is a "living conversation" aiming to collect and understand the many perspectives on the Sri Lankan conflict.
In 2007, the PACT concept was recognised by the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), a global think tank, for its innovative use of new media.
Emails from Kannan Arunasalam to The Communication Initiative on October 28 2008 and November 25 2008; and the PACT website.
Email from Anne Nelson to The Communication Initiative on March 7 2008.
These reporters are trained to understand conflict partners from the inside and to recognise in all parties their joint creativity in finding ways to transcend the incompatibilities. Internews provides interpretation at all stages of cross-production to maximise both formal and informal exchanges. Cross-production participants also hold meetings with fellow journalists and community representatives across the east of Sri Lanka. These background briefings and discussions are designed to give a detailed picture of communities affected by military conflict and ethnic strife.
To facilitate this process, Internews established media houses in Matara and Ampara to provide a creative place for journalists of different ethnicities to come together for training, production, and resource support. Reporters are trained to understand conflict partners from the inside, and recognise in all parties their joint creativity in finding ways to transcend the incompatibilities and to address common challenges. The Matara media house also holds regular professional development seminars for journalists on issues such as globalisation and the media, and freedom of information. After the training, journalists receive hands-on guidance to help them cover issues important in their community. This support is designed to help ensure that the voices and concerns of local communities are included in the media – not just perspectives from the capital, Colombo, where most media are concentrated. According to Internews Country Director Matt Abud, "Local communities throughout Sri Lanka lack media that provide information and news about their own neighborhoods, making it harder for them to explore and understand local issues. Because of this, local perspectives on peace, development, democracy, and other issues are also rarely heard at the national level."
Both media houses support the production of Real Voices, a weekly radio programme covering community issues that airs on local radio stations in the East and South. Real Voices is now distributed in 9 outlets, including Sinhala-language radio stations, Tamil-language radio stations, podcasts, and a satellite network that broadcasts directly to 16 villages, with plans to expand to 1,000. Recent stories covered on Real Voices include: an update on reconstruction after the 2004 tsunami, including disputes over distribution of resources; domestic violence and mental health challenges faced by women in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps; the challenges of sharing water resources for both drinking and irrigation between different communities in Ampara; and the impact of the decline in tourism due to the worsening security situation in Sri Lanka.
Internews also runs a small grants programme called Radio Plus, which offers financial and technical support to organisations or individuals who lack the means to get their stories to the public. Some grantees tackle issues such as small arms proliferation, discrimination faced by disabled youth in rural areas, corruption in local communities, and the conditions of Free Trade Zone workers. Others are exploring the use of new media, including an SMS (text messaging) news service, and internet radio programmes.
Ethnic conflict has plagued the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka for decades and has claimed over 60,000 lives. In late 2005, after a peace process and ceasefire fell apart, the fighting intensified. According to Internews, the conflict has coloured many Sri Lankan journalists' coverage of local issues. For example, in one case, journalists jointly covered a local tsunami reconstruction dispute at Deepagavi that had split community attitudes. "Before this cross-production I misunderstood the Deepagavi issue," said one Sinhala journalist. "I thought the Muslim community had unjustly treated the Sinhalese, and I wrote that in my stories. But now…I realize there was no injustice....This problem is over-politicized."
The exchange between journalists is not only about producing stories, but also about individual relations. "Before the cross-production, I didn't like the Sinhala language and I had a bad impression of Sinhala people," said one Tamil trainee. "But since [meeting southern colleagues through] the cross-production I love the language, and I've now enrolled in a Sinhala class."
Funded by the US Agency for International Development's Office of Transition Initiatives.
Internews e-newsletter, sent from Annette Makino to The Communication Initiative on August 7 2007; and Internews website.
This year-long project draws upon the internet to both offer participants the means to "blog" (converse online) about how conflict is affecting their lives and countries, and to provide them with the tools they need to start small development projects in their respective communities. YAC researched several countries, regions, and conflicts and decided to shed light on those unreported, underreported and neglected crisis, conflicts, and issues. Then, they extended a call for applications, selecting up to 5 young people from each country who hailed from different cultural, social, and religious backgrounds (with a commitment to maintaining gender balance throughout the project). Throughout the pilot phase, YAC teachers and partner grassroots organisations in the target countries will train and help participants address local concerns through various activities organised by participants for their peers and communities - the details of which will be shared in the online blogs.
ICTs are also being used to educate and involve people of all ages in these young people's efforts to equip themselves for peaceful action. Any visitor to the Forgotten Diaries website may read about the conflict-related issues specific to, and shared commonly among, each of the countries highlighted. They may also read the weblogs, which are designed to serve as a way to get to know participants and the conflicts they live in. YAC explains that, "[a]s we hope to provide them – and YOU – with ongoing intercultural and interreligious dialogue opportunities, we encourage you to read, comment, and reply to our participants' posts....We also plan to organise chats with our participants periodically for you to get to share your perspectives live with them."
From the Forgotten Diaries website: "There are now over 100 ongoing conflicts and crisis in world, and despite the fact that some of these have been going on for over ten years and have claimed several thousands lives, they have received very little coverage by mainstream media....They are, de facto, shunned by the international community at large and are generally referred to as 'forgotten conflicts'. Several million children and young people are confronted daily with war, and have no chance to tell the outer world about their lives, hopes and expectations, nor the way they perceive conflicts and their struggle to survive." It is this perceived lack of "voice" that Forgotten Diaries aims to address.
From the YAC website: "Our...approach consists of engaging skilled young people to motivate and teach other young people, so as to empower them with all the tools they need to create a lasting and meaningful change at different levels. We offer all of our activities online and totally free of charge, and employ the peer-to-peer methodology."
In advance of the February 2011 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, players and squads from the 14 competing countries teamed up to help combat the AIDS epidemic.
The campaign, running throughout the ICC Cricket World Cup, is using television, online media, and in-stadium messaging in the 3 countries hosting the tournament (Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka). The concept is that sport can help bring people together to address key issues and encourage social change. The partnership has 2 major components:
- THINK WISE awareness: The advocacy work carried out by the partnership and leading international cricketers is designed to deliver key information about HIV at the international, regional, and national levels through public service announcements (PSAs) - such as the one visible below - event publications, and the THINK WISE website. This information focuses on awareness, inclusion, and informed decision-making for young people and volunteers, coaches, and commentators and broadcasters about the AIDS epidemic.
- THINK WISE projects: The partnership is piloting community-based cricket for development projects, aimed at using the power and popularity of cricket to help young people develop the appropriate knowledge, attitudes, and skills to reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. For example, the campaign is being rolled out in schools and communities in match-playing cities to engage young people in HIV/AIDS education. The participating schools are building on the popularity of cricket, and excitement about the ICC Cricket World Cup, to engage young people in interactive HIV-prevention learning opportunities. Even the session on stigma and discrimination is delivered in a participatory style - e.g., games and group activities - designed to engage students in games and lively conversations.
"UNICEF and World-class Cricketers Team up to Battle HIV and AIDS: ICC Cricket World Cup 2011", by Amy Farkas, UNICEF website, January 25 2011; and THINK WISE website, February 10 2011. Image credit: International Cricket Council/2010.
Connecting to Work: Non-Agricultural Livelihood Opportunities for Rural Labour: Sri Lanka (Wage Labour)
Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA)
This paper sets out an evaluation methodology to understand and assess the impact of information and communication technology (ICT) on rural livelihoods - specifically, of wage workers in Sri Lanka.
Emails from Shalini Kala and Apoorva Mishra to The Communication Initiative on November 25 and November 29 2010, respectively.
This document from the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) focuses on media and conflict. It points out that both media and conflict have changed markedly in recent years.
CAMECO New Publications on Media in Developing and Transition Countries, October 2009-June 2010; and email from Ivan Sigal to The Communication Initiative on October 13 2010.