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* Singapore launches community development project in Northern Sri Lanka
Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 09:23 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 04, Jaffna: Singapore Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam, who is on a four-day official visit to Sri Lanka, today launched a community development project that will benefit some 3,000 youths in Sri Lanka's Jaffna district.

The youths will benefit from improved English language teaching and access to English educational materials and facilities, with the launch of the project by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF).

Inaugurating the project at the Jaffna Library on Friday, Minister Shanmugam said Singapore can help to make the lives of the people in Northern Sri Lanka better by such community programs.

"We need more volunteers, then we can expand the project. We are looking at what else we can do," he said addressing the gathering.

""If you can help, if Singapore can help, in this way, we can make their lives better and that helps in the peace and reconciliation process," the Singapore Minister said.

Sri Lanka's Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, Douglas Devananda and other Sri Lankan dignitaries and partners also participated in the event.

The project aims to enhance the English Language communication skills of the youth, aged between 10 and 18 years old, by equipping them with learning resources in English and training Jaffna's English language teachers.

The SIF, which has engaged in capacity building projects in Sri Lanka since 1993, developed the project, in consultation with the Jaffna Municipal Council, Jaffna Public Library, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, and the National Library Board, Singapore (NLB).

"We hope that our collective efforts will not only inspire a vibrant culture of English Language learning here in Jaffna and effect positive changes in the lives of youth in terms of better jobs and opportunities in the future, but also pave the way for lasting friendships between Singapore and Sri Lanka," Singapore International Foundation Executive Director, Ms Jean Tan said.

The Library's youth section was also refurbished and 10,000 English books donated by the NLB to create a Youth Resource Centre to provide an environment conducive for youth to learn and practice communicating in English. A mobile library was also presented to the people in the district.

Over the next 12 months, experienced English Language teachers from Singapore will serve as specialist volunteers to train 15 Jaffna English teachers in English Language communication pedagogy and student assessment methods so as to enhance the quality of English language teaching in secondary and high schools.

The visiting Minister met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo Thursday and discussed enhancing bilateral ties.

President Rajapaksa urged the Foreign Minister to consider launching similar community development programs in other parts of the country as well.

Mr. Shanmugam also signed the revised Singapore-Sri Lanka Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement with his Sri Lankan counterpart Professor G.L. Peiris Thursday.

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