Despite Sri Lanka's comparatively high level of development, about half of the population of Colombo lives in simple shanty towns. Due to their low level of education, these families, of which there were more than 77,000 in 2008 according to a survey, can only earn their living in the informal sector. They mostly work as cleaners, street vendors or due to their dire situation in prostitution. The victims of this misery are above all the children: many of them are brought up by distant relatives who force them to work at an early age because their parents have left the country. Thus, many of them are denied access to education, as compulsory schooling is hardly enforceable in this environment. Most of the children are malnourished, suffer from poor hygienic conditions and become addicted to alcohol or drugs in a young age already. For girls, sexual abuse and marriage in childhood – often due to pregnancy resulting from rape – are part of everyday life.
With its project “Education For All - Creating a Safe and Protected Environment for Children Living in the Slums of Colombo”, the Humanitarian Foundation in Battaramulla supports the rights of children in the slums of Keselwathe, Jithupitiya and Kochikade South. The aim of the project is to integrate the children concerned into the school system and enable them to obtain a school leaving certificate. To achieve this, parents shall first be made aware of the necessity and benefits of a school education. In each slum, a group is to be formed to monitor the living conditions of the children, report gross misconduct to the authorities and provide support. Finally, the project also supports the organisation of leisure activities for the children concerned.
The German Embassy Colombo supports the Humanitarian Foundation in its efforts to give the weakest members of Sri Lankan society new perspectives and a successful, self-determined future with this project.
Ambassador Rohde’s opinion to this project: “Access to education was and is the indispensable prerequisite for successful social participation, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am pleased that, with the support of the Humanitarian Foundation, we can make a small contribution to a better future for these children.”
An impression of the first educational sessions for women and children on the childrens' right to education in the slums of Colombo