The two day training programme was conducted virtually in Kandy by Mr. Imran Nafeer and consisted of a three-step approach and interactive activities.
SCORE anticipates improving the local and national government institutions and processes promoting social cohesion and reconciliation. It hopes to improve the knowledge of local and national government institutions on concepts relating to social cohesion and reconciliation. This is the primary purpose behind the Non-Discriminatory Customer Service training module, which was developed based on the findings of research study “Everyday Peace Indicators for Strengthening Reconciliation Programs” conducted under the United States Institute for Peace during 2018-2019.
The first step was to identify certain perceptions of discrimination through stories and findings from research studies. The second step was sharing experiences and learnings on best practices to be followed in providing quality, non-discriminatory customer service. It was expected that it would lead participants to acknowledge the discrimination shown on the part of the service provider. As the last step, participants engaged in brainstorming ways to rectify discriminatory practices that had been identified.
Participants provided short term and long term solutions for the discrimination based on their experiences. An officer in charge of Buddhist Affairs said problems arose because of insufficient knowledge of other religions.
Another officer spoke on the importance of equality when providing inclusive service delivery. “There is a lot of discrimination when it comes to the government service delivery. A politician will use his or her power to access services easily, which is unfair. In other countries, everybody gets an equal chance; no matter what your position is, you receive the same service as others. This system is needed for Sri Lanka.”
“Government officers should give priority to poor and helpless people not to the powerful and rich,” a participant said.
Another officer said that attitudinal change on the part of service providers was needed in delivering inclusive services. “Government officers should give equal service to customers from various social backgrounds because we get our salaries through their taxes. The general public should be our priority. That’s why there should be an attitudinal change by government officers.”
Some of the officers believed that Sri Lankan society was based on discriminatory practices. “From the day we are born as Sri Lankans until the day we die, we face discrimination; even in our birth certificates we are divided according to our ethnicities so that is why we need to change people’s attitudes,” one officer said.