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Sunday, 11 January 2009





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Developing estate youth as an investment for the future

A young medical doctor whose mother plucks two leaves and a bud in a tea estate is an amazing accomplishment for the entire nation. Now however higher education among children of estate workers is no longer a rare phenomenon.

In fact there are several undergraduates among this year’s university entrants whose parents work in plantations. In addition, there are two medical students, one engineering student and five more in other faculties.

This illustrates the change that is taking place in the estates and how the single-minded goal of the Regional Plantation Companies to promote the physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being of the estate community in support of government policy is resulting in stimulating ambition and commitment among the new generation growing up in the tea plantations.

This is achieved through the Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT) that has been set up to coordinate an array of activities that bolster the quality of life of estate workers in 430 plantations that come under Regional Plantation Companies (RPC), Janatha Estate Development Board (JEDB) and Sri Lanka State Plantations Corporation (SLSPC). These activities pivot around maternal care, child nutrition, disease control, family development, even housing and sanitation.

Pressing problems in estates such as the prevalence of worm infestation and anaemia among the plantation community are also addressed through de-worming programs and improved sanitation.

A study conducted by the Sri Lanka Business Development Centre on the perceptions of estate youth revealed that they were appreciative of the welfare programs implemented during the past two decades, particularly in improved housing and sanitation, as well as the availability of pipe-borne water and electricity that have made a tremendous difference to life in the estates.

However the most important function that contributes is the skills development program. The objective of this program is to develop

self-confidence and self-reliance among the adolescents in the estates so that armed with the required life skills, they would become valuable investments for the future, with carefully nurtured talents and skills resulting in improved productivity, that is a vital need for Sri Lanka to maintain its competitive edge in the world tea market.

One example of developing skills of the next generation of estate workers was a youth camp held at the Green Hill Retreat Centre in Kotagala.

Here in the picturesque surroundings, 150 young men and women in the 12-20 age group learned how to meet the challenges of day-to-day life with greater success. Among the range of skills they were infused with was decision-making, with emphasis on making the right decision at the right time, overcoming impulse, aggression, procrastination, and allowing others to make the decision.

Problem solving was also in the agenda and the group was able to understand that unsolved problems cause mental depression.

Creative thinking was encouraged and so was analytical thinking, so that the participants would be equipped to look at a situation from all angles, and make an unbiased and impartial assessment, and come to a correct conclusion, particularly when exposed to media propaganda.

The course modules were designed to inculcate effective communication, build interpersonal skills and develop greater awareness and understanding of emotions.

These sessions helped to educate the youthful participants on healthcare, maternal and child nutrition and focused on the prevention of teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse, that often reach high proportions ultimately impacting on reducing the quality of life in the estates.

The youth camp was also an opportunity for the young people to show off their talents in dancing, music, singing and public speaking. Similar youth camps were held in Badulla, Nuwara Eliya and Hatton with altogether over 475 estate youths benefiting from the programs.

Under the auspices of the RPCs, the role played by the PHDT extends far beyond skills training to create a positive change of attitude and a better quality of life among the estate population in Sri Lanka.



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