Delegates: Ms. Maishaa Balraj, Mr. Senel Wanniarachchi
State: Sri Lanka
45. Ms. Balraj (Sri Lanka), speaking as a youth delegate, said that Sri Lanka provided state-funded free education to all from kindergarten to university and its literacy rate was consequently among the best in the developing world — 92.3 per cent for boys and 90 per cent for girls. Gender parity had been achieved in primary schools and overall enrolment was at 100 per cent. However, the biggest challenge facing the education system was the disparity in resource distribution between urban and rural areas.
46. Given that unemployment and underemployment were another challenge, mainly due to a lack of training opportunities and the absence of a smooth transition from school to work, skills development was a critical need. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development provided vocational training to approximately 25,000 young people through an islandwide network of vocational training centres. The youth unemployment rate had been reduced from 21 per cent to less than 18 per cent by establishing the University of Vocational Technology and introducing a vocational training curriculum in high schools.
47. Women and girls around the world faced many structural barriers that prevented them from achieving their full potential. There was, therefore, a need to re-examine the structural dominance and power relations in societies. Lastly, Governments should support the call in the outcome document of the World Conference for Youth for a dedicated United Nations day on youth skills development in order to raise awareness of the importance of skills and create more opportunities for young people.
48. Mr. Wanniarachchi (Sri Lanka), speaking as a youth delegate, expressed his solidarity with the HeForShe campaign launched by UN-Women and pledged to take the message to men and boys in Sri Lanka. Even though the world’s first elected woman Prime Minister had been Sri Lankan, much more needed to be done to ensure that more young women were represented in parliament and other key decision making bodies. However, he noted that, while many countries needed to improve education access for girls, in Sri Lanka girls were performing better than boys.
49. The Sri Lanka Youth Parliament was a unique example in mainstreaming youth participation in decision-making. Addressing the parliament in 2013, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navi Pillay had praised the institution for its dedication to a tolerant and all inclusive approach.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/69/SR.3