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'Learning for Empathy' - Inaugural seminar and the launch of the project

'Learning for Empathy' - Inaugural seminar and the launch of the project

The Teacher Exchange and Support Program for Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in cooperation with Japan

With the generous contribution of the Government of Japan, the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO  in collaboration with the UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office and supported by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok on 25 September 2020 launched the project, ‘Learning for Empathy: A teacher exchange and support program’ at the Ministry of Education in “Isurupaya”, Battaramulla.

On the invitation of Dr P. N. Meegaswatte, Secretary-General, Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, the Chief Guest, Hon'ble Susil Premajayantha, State Minister of Educational Reforms graced the event, along with the Guest of Honour H.E. Akira Sugiyama, Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka.  

Learning for empathy

The launch event also saw the participation of Hon. Seetha Arambepola, M.P., State Minister for Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation,  Prof. Kapila Perera, Secretary of Education and Vice-Chairperson of Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, State Secretary for Educational Reforms, Dr. Upali Sedera, as well as dignitaries from India and those representing other regional countries participating in this project, namely Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan, including Ministry of Education officials, principals, teachers and students from 50 schools. 

The Chief Guest, Hon’ble Susil Premajayantha in his address expressed his appreciation for the support extended by the Government of Japan and the positive impact of the project on principals, teachers and students. Dr P. N. Meegaswatte in his remarks, emphasized the importance of learning empathy for the promotion of peace, understanding and prevention of violence and solicited support from the stakeholders including the Ministry of Education in taking the project forward on a national level.

H.E. Akira Sugiyama expressed his thanks to the Sri Lankan National Commission for organising the event.  Reflecting on the  success of the teacher exchange program so far he reiterated that if the circumstances of COVID-19 permit, Japan hopes to invite teachers and students selected from all four countries under this project including from Sri Lanka early next year for a study visit to Japan to ascertain how it is being implemented and practised in Japan and to exchange views.

'Learning for Empathy’ is in response to SDG 4 (quality education), and aims more specifically to contribute to strengthening national and local education authorities and practitioners’ capacities to equip learners with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed to live healthy lives, promote sustainability, and engage with the world of responsible, global citizens (SDG Target 4.7).

--Eric Falt, UNESCO New Delhi Director


It taught me not only about the textbook meaning of empathy, but also how we can act on empathy.



Even though empathy is a concept we’re all familiar with, running such a program “Learning for Empathy” island wide could make a change in the school environment.



Another student thanked the organizers saying “Even though I think I knew all about empathy, today I found out that there is much I can learn”.

Country presentations on project work implemented by respective countries in phase-I of the project were made by representatives from the participating countries, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan shared their own experiences on implementing projects on empathy through the project, by way of “Zoom conferencing“ facilitated by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok.

As a follow up, the students are now involved in completing their project designs for which they will be supported through the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.  Finally, the best five schools will be selected to participate in a study visit to Japan.

In addition, schools were also provided an opportunity to register with the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) which links educational institutions across the world, currently over 11,500 ASPnet member schools in 182 countries work in support of international understanding, peace, intercultural dialogue, sustainable development and quality education in practice.


Source: https://en.unesco.org/news/learning-empathy-inaugural-seminar-and-launch-project

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