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The Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation under the guidance of President MaithiripalaSirisena conducted a programme to orient over 1,000 Sunday Religious School Teachers of all faith on reconciliation and peace building. The programme was held recently at the Hindu Cultural Hall, Trincomalee.

Leader of the Opposition, R. Sampanthan, participated as chief guest. In addition, State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation, A.H.M. Fowze, Governor of the Eastern Province, Rohitha Bogollagama, and Eastern Province Chief Minister, Nazeer Ahamed took part at the event.

The objective of this programme was to impart the knowledge on reconciliation and peace building to the religious school teachers and empower them as peace advocates and change agents to enable them to impart the knowledge to the Young school children and thereby contribute towards reconciliation and peace building efforts, Secretary to the Ministry, V. Sivagnanasothy said.

Sampanthan, meanwhile, emphasized the need to make necessary constitutional reforms to ensure harmonious relationship and sustainable peace.

The orientation also emphasizes that in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society, diversity should be recognized as richness while the Sri Lankan identity should bring a strong bond and unity.

Religion is considered as a powerful platform to inculcate love, affection, brotherhood, sisterhood, tolerance which are essential values to improve human dignity that laid a foundation for unity, reconciliation and sustainable peace said Sivagnanasothy, the Ministry Secretary.

During the discussion, the religious school teachers emphasized on the need to provide a basic introduction on all religious fundamentals so that children will get a better understanding of the common values which will lead to improve the inter-religious relationship.

The participants also emphasized on the need to inculcate ethics, values and virtues in the religious school teachings to improve the morale of the children. They also emphasized the need to promote learning of languages other than mother tongue to have a smooth communication among inter-ethnic groups which is fundamental for sustainable peace.
The participants also pointed out the need to discourage and ban hate speeches. He said there were pockets of incidence of attacks on religious places of worships that are carried out by very few extremist elements, adding that indiscriminate law enforcement was essential to maintain peace and harmony.

All participants observed and pledged the national integration and reconciliation declaration and agreed to institutionalize the value systems and reconciliation principles into the religious school teachings.