Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum
Sri Lankan Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) is a well established national level organization, with more than 7 years of extensive experience in promoting the role of media in democratization and transformation. We work closely with local media organizations, International media development agencies, civil society organizations, youth and women development movements and organizations that promote democracy and pluralism towards better transformation. Media for Transformation, Community Media for Inclusive Development and Training and Capacity Building are the major programme areas of Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum. The Democracy, Equality, Social Justice and Inclusiveness are the cross-cutting themes of SDJF.
A union of young forum artists was formed to foster pluralism and non-violence through arts and culture last week, by Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum. The union was named as Youth in Action. The objective of the Youth in Action is to build the capacity of young artists on using arts and culture for positive social change and social integrity.
SDJF called the young artists who took part in the Sri Lanka Forum Theatre Program which was implemented by Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum in partnership with Education Ministries in the Southern and Western provinces. The youth had successfully completed the phase three of Sri Lanka Forum theatre Program by performing in 30 forums in three districts such as Kaluthara, Galle and Matara reaching around 50,00 children and around hundred thousand adults over social media.
As the first major step of creating this network SDJF decided to form a working committee for Youth in Action that comprise thirteen (13) members such as two Conveners, one Secretary , one Treasurer and 9 Members of Province. After a fare election held at the Re- Union of the Forum Theatre Artists on the 24th of October 2015, at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute, Colombo, the main positions of the working committee were selected.
Sanjeewan Gunathilake and M.M. Arshath were selected as the two conveners of the union. Sanjeewan who comes from Matara has been in the field of stage dramas and tele -dramas for many years. He is an actor, producer and a trainer. Arshath is from Thoppur and he is a member of Sarvodaya and takes part in street dramas. In addition, A. S. Moris was selected as the Treasurer and P. K. Suresh Kumar as the Secretary. Moris who comes from Hatton is an actor in many street and stage dramas while Suresh from Lindula is an actor and a short film producer who is a member of ‘ADAYALAM’ Society and Lindula Cultural trust.
The Newly appointed working committee gave oaths in front of the election committee which included Prof. W.A.D.P. Wanigasundera, Chairperson of SDJF. In forming this Union Prof. W.A.D.P. Wanigasundera mentioned “this kind of a union can definitely make a huge impact on promoting pluralism and non-violence while establishing social integrity which is indeed a timely important requirement for a diverse society like ours”.
Sri Lanka Forum Theatre Phase III is yet another successful program implemented by Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum in partnership with Western and Southern Province Ministries of Education and the University of Visual and Performing Arts. This program began in the month of July 2015 by selecting 36 young artists and training them on Forum Theatre. The drama scripts produced by these young artists were later performed in 30 selected schools in the Kalutara, Galle and Matara Districts. With the end of these successful performances the Sri Forum Theater Phase III came to end.
As a final gathering of these Young Artists, SDJF organized a ‘Re-Union of the Forum Theatre Artists’ on the 24th of October at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute, Colombo. At this Re-union the artists were given an opportunity to tell their personal experience throughout the journey and were asked to discuss in groups about their challengers, successful stories and suggestions that they would like to apply for another phase of this program.
The Chairperson of SDJF, Prof. W.A.D.P. Wanigasundera, Directors of US Embassy Information Support Team Mr. Mike Hemmie, Mr. Darryl Diltz and Eric Sutterfield attended this Re-union. In his speech Prof. Wanigasundera acknowledged the importance of Development Communication. He mentioned “to construct a better form of development communication what is important is the behavioural change and to make this change we need to fill the gap between attitudes, knowledge and skills. This target can be achieved through our own creativity”.
At this Re-union the young artists once again showed their talents in dancing, singing and acting though some of their cultural performances. The US Embassy Information Support team also took this gathering as an occasion to present a certificate of appreciation to all the young artists for taking part in this program and praised them for their successful intervention throughout this journey.
With the end of the Forum Theatre Performances in the Galle District, SDJF carried the dramas to the Matara District. SDJF organized the Forum Theatre Program last July with an aim of promoting pluralistic values among school children and youth.
The Matara district performances took place from 12th to 23rd of October 2015 in 10 schools in the Southern Province. Speaking to the audience the Principal of Dharul Uloom Muslim Maha Vidyalaya, Mr. M.R.M. Haroon acknowledged “it was a great experience for school children, parents and teachers to engage themselves in this program where they were a given an enormous amount of freedom and space to express their own views about social issues”.
The Forum Theatre performances in the Matara district were held in; Thalpavila M.M.V,Thalpavila, Devinuwara, Deianadara National College, Deiandara, Telijjawila Central College, Telijjawila, Kirinda Puhulwella Madya Maha Vidyalaya, Kirinda Puhulwella, Dharul Uloom Maha Vidyalaya, Matara, An-Noor Muslim Vidyalaya, Denipitiya, Al -Azhar Kanishta Vidyalaya, Gandara, Beverly Kanishta Vidyalaya, Deniyaya, Aninkanda Demala Kanishta Vidyalaya, Pitabeddara, Ensalwatta Demala Kanishta Vidyalaya, Viharahena. Many school children, teachers, parents and villagers participated in these performances and there were important suggestions and comments made by this huge audience.
With the conclusion of the performances in the Matara district the Sri Lank Forum Theatre Program – Phase III came to an end. SDJF received many positive feedbacks from different parties throughout the program.
After concluding the Forum Theatre Performances in the Kalutara District, SDJF moved towards the Galle District Performances. Based around the idea of promoting non-violence, pluralism, diversity and tolerance through school children, SDJF organized the Forum Theatre Program.
The Galle performances took place from 28th September to 09th of October 2015 in 10 schools in the district. Many school children, teachers, parents and villagers participated in these performances and there were some positive responses from this wide range of audience.
Attending the Forum Theatre Performance at the Divithura Tamil Kanishta Vidyalaya, the Secretary of the Ministry of Education Southern Province Mr. Y. Wickramasiri noted “Forum Theatre program is a great attempt to improve the skills of children while giving them a sound understanding about pluralistic values”.
The Forum Theatre performances in the Galle district were held in; Akmeemana Maha Vidyalaya, Akmeemana, Hapugala Maha Vidyalaya, Wackwella, Lelwala Gigummaduwa Kanishta Vidyalaya, Gigummaduwa, Neluwa Jathika Pasala, Neluwa, Galle, Zahira College Gintota, Sir/ Razik Fareed Muslim Maha Vidyalaya, Panapitiya, Karandeniya, Welithara Muslim Maha Vidyalaya, Balapitiya, Thalgaswala Demala Vidyalaya, Thalgaswala, Divithura Tamil Kanishta Vidyalaya, Athkandura, Thalangahawatta Demala Kanishta Vidyalaya, Nakiyadeniya.
With the successful completion of the Phase I and II of Sri Lanka Forum Theatre Program, SDJF organized the Phase III of this program in the Western and Southern Province including Kalutara, Galle and Matara districts with an aim of promoting non-violence, pluralism, diversity and tolerance amongst school children and youth. After the preparation workshops held for the 36 young artists from the above districts, SDJF started the Forum Theatre Performance from the Kalutara District.
The Kalutara district performances took place from 07th to 18th September 2015 in 10 schools. For each performance the crowd ranged from 350 – 600 including school children, teachers, parents and villagers. Attending the Forum Theatre Performance Mrs. K.K.C.K. Ranaweera, Principal of the Miriswatta National College acknowledged “forum theatre is a good effort in bringing an attitudinal change among school children and it also creates space for skills development while giving some opportunity for entertainment to the children apart from their day today school work”.
The Forum Theatre performances in the Kalutara district were held in; Aluthgama Veediya Muslim Ladies College, Aluthgama, Muslim Maha Vidylaya, Kaluthara, AL-Faharia Maha Vidyalaya, Panadura, Bharathi Vidhyalaya, Thebuwana, Payagala Hindu Vidyalaya, Payagala, Eluwila Alaviya Muslim Maha Vidyalaya, Panadura, Miriswatta Jathika Pasela, Dodangoda, Wadduwa M.M.V, Wadduwa, Panadura Balika Vidyalaya, Panadura, Bombuwala Sri Dharmaloka Maha Vidyalaya, Bombuwala.
The most significant factor in these performances was the active participation of school children in these dramas. The comments and the solutions they brought out showed their awareness in current social issues and their willingness to change the wrong attitudes of the majority of the people.
SDJF will next move on to the Galle district performances which will begin on the 28th of September 2015.
Sri Lanka Forum Theatre Program Phase III was implemented by Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum in collaboration with Southern and Western Province Ministry of Education and the University of Visual and Performing Arts with an aim of promoting pluralistic values such as non-violence, tolerance, pluralism and diversity amongst school children and youth through Forum Theatre Performances.
36 young artists who were selected for the Phase III were well trained on Forum Theatre through the residential training workshops held in Galle and Kalutara. These young artists produced 12 forum theatre scripts which were to be performed in 30 selected schools in Kalutara, Galle and Matara districts.
As a result the first forum theatre performances began in the Kalutara district on the 07th of September 2015. Four performances have been held already in Aluthgama Veediya Muslim Ladies College, Aluthgama, Muslim Maha Vidyalaya, Kaluthara, AL-Faharia Maha Vidyalaya, Panadura and Bharathi Vidyalaya, Thebuwana.
In all these performances there were significant discussions amongst students, teachers and parents with regard to the social issues presented in the dramas. It was noticed that there is a high tendency to build a dialogue among old and younger generations as to how to create a better society by promoting pluralistic values. The dramas were based on the theme of ‘reject violence and promote dialogue’ and the positive attitudes and perceptions of the majority of the school children showed that they are the real change makers of our own society.