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Thursday, 06 May 2021 16:41

Practising Democracy at Community Level

Under the Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Activity, NPC organized six training programmes on Resilient Communities Through Everyday Democracy Module in Kandy, Mullaitivu, Ampara, Kilinochchi and Batticaloa for 159 participants including coexistence society members, Local Inter Religious Committee members, District Inter Religious Committee members and 59 community leaders. Imran Nafeer conducted the training programme to enhance the participants' basic understanding of a democratic society and its values, to brainstorm and recall learnings from participants' past on a value-based democratic society and to identify key issues and areas to be focused on.

The intention of the programme was to create a dialogue among participants on lessons learnt and the role of community members based on their past experience. It was expected to create an open space for participants to recall their own memories and experiences in relation to the role of community members for a value-based democratic society. Participants were trained to identify key issues and areas to be focused on while empowering them to address those issues as community leaders.

Interactive tools and techniques such as activities, group activities, plenary discussions, group brainstorming and follow-up agreements were used to encourage a productive dialogue on different thematic areas.

During the first session, participants defined democracy through various images, keywords or paper cuttings, inspiring them to respect their uniqueness and differences. The second session explained the concept of democracy while allowing participants to discuss their opinions, perceptions and reflections on their version of democracy with practical examples.

The third session explained the presence of multiple opinions in society and inspired participants to participate through discussions. The fourth session had role play to reflect the challenges in collective decision making and action to give participants the chance to use their aesthetic talents while reflecting on the practical challenges they faced at the community level in collective decision making efforts.

“One of the basic problems is discriminatory practices in government institutions; we can’t see democratic values in their service delivery. We are voiceless. The only thing we can do is to share this knowledge with the others in our communities. It will empower the younger generations,” said N. Dilshan, a Youth Club member from Mullaitivu.

“We identified democracy as a politically related word. Today I realised the broader meaning of the term. As individuals we should practice democratic values in our day to day life. Most people do not have sufficient knowledge about democracy, so spreading this knowledge will be a challenge,” said Ravikumar Rajini, a Moral Education teacher from Kilinochchi.