Delegates: Ms. Naushalya Rajapaksha (21 years), Mr. Thilina Panduwawala (21 years)
5. Ms. Rajapaksha (Sri Lanka), speaking as a youth delegate, said that after decades of colonization, insurgencies, civil war and natural disasters, Sri Lanka consistently put young people at the heart of development. With free education at all levels, it had achieved universal primary and secondary school enrolment and youth literacy, although more than one-third of young Sri Lankans did not continue beyond the secondary level for lack of money, which led to rising youth unemployment rates. Her Government considered skills development essential not only for reducing youth unemployment, and but also for healing ethnic divisions, and it was working to make vocational training curriculums compatible with the requirements of domestic industry and the changing global economy. Although sexual and reproductive health services were available, 60 per cent of young Sri Lankans did not know where to find them. Only 5 percent engaged directly in political activism. A mere 5 percent of parliamentarians were women, although efforts were being made to address the need for more equal representation. Young people and adults must work together to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
6. Mr. Panduwawala (Sri Lanka), speaking as a youth delegate, said that his country had actively contributed to shaping the Sustainable Development Goals. Young people in their twenties would be approaching middle age by 2030, and if the Goals were not realized, they would be partly to blame. They should not become discouraged by the lack of space for civic engagement or social advocacy, but should take action; and should become social entrepreneurs, a skill which they could master through volunteerism. However, the State must do its part to empower them by ensuring that they had the skills needed to find a job or start a business. Relatively inexpensive community-based projects to benefit youth would go a long way towards achieving sustainable development. His Government’s new policy on strengthening reproductive education through school curriculums could help young people become more aware of gender issues, sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and the effective use of contraceptives. In closing, he invited all Member States to join with Sri Lanka in celebrating World Youth Skills Day 2016.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/70/SR.4