Community leaders’ skills, knowledge and attitudes will be enhanced to promote cultural, behavioural and attitudinal diversity among ethnic and religious groups. LIRCs and youth wings consist of members belonging to different ethnic and religious communities. They interact with diverse groups and communities through their work therefore their understanding of pluralistic values will help the community leaders to be more effective when they address localised conflicts.
Giving priority to raising awareness on the importance of eliminating prejudice and stereotypes and the importance of creating a pluralistic society, the training content was designed to broaden the discourse and practice of pluralism through inclusive platforms. Participants engaged in group activities to ensure effective engagement and understanding to reduce communal violence. Recognising and respecting the other’s space was emphasised through the framework of pluralism and diversity.
Participants were educated and capacitated on the concept of pluralism, diversity and the innate differences of human beings based on geographical, ethnic and religious identities. Group activities were conducted to help them to understand the concept and how to use the theories taught during the session. It focused on how pluralism and diversity play a significant role in a multi cultural society.
During the group sessions, participants identified several challenges that they faced when working in a multi cultural society that would need to be considered in future interventions. Vibudda Sulochana, a member of the Mawanella youth wing, explained the need of creating opportunities for youth to be a part of the reconciliation process. “We have a basic knowledge of pluralism but we do not know how to practice these pluralistic values in our daily lives. I learnt that it is important to acknowledge the diversity of society in terms of strengthening inter religious relations. We should include these subjects in school curriculums.”
Thakshila Somaratne explained how the training encouraged her to be part of the local reconciliation efforts. “The training inspired me to accept the pluralistic nature of the society. By respecting and acknowledging diverse opinions and values we can rebuild relations among the different communities”.
Kanchana Amarasinghe, a member of Mawanella LIRC, emphasised the need to train state officials to improve the quality of their service. “These community platforms have given us the opportunity to contribute to this process. The state officials can share this knowledge with other officers in their institutions. I believe state institutions should follow pluralistic values.”
Wijani Rathnasekara, Divisional Secretary in Mawanella, pledged to extend her support as she believed that the programme would have an impact in Mawanella.