Building Leadership Skills for Sri Lankan Youth

Once their secondary schooling has been completed, some Sri Lankan teenagers continue to live with and depend on their parents. Years of civil conflict, the 2004 tsunami and recent flooding in the East have worsened the situation, displacing thousands of families. In these circumstances, many youth moving toward adulthood are ill-prepared to contribute to their households, become independent and help their siblings.  With few opportunities to pursue university studies, many youth still seek skills training, or life direction.  

What We're Doing: 

WUSC helps teenagers from displaced families to better understand their own abilities and skills and identify and pursue their goals for the future. We teach them about social responsibility, encourage them to work for positive change in their communities and help them to recognize their own potential.

We provide Sri Lankan youth with a foundation of knowledge and skills by:

  • organizing a week-long training session to teach them leadership skills, team-building and self-motivation;
  • providing information on gender awareness, health, and child rights;
  • providing career-orientation and skills training to find jobs or become entrepreneurs;
  • creating placement opportunities which encourage youth to become active members of their communities;
  • re-establishing relationships with their communities and families
What We're Learning: 

Opportunities to interact with youth from other ethnic and religious groups can be limited in Sri Lanka. WUSC’s knowledge and experience of the local context helped address needs of youth from different geographical locations and backgrounds. For example, lessons learned during the post-tsunami period helped us develop relevant programs to bridge ethnic and religious divides and promote mutual understanding.

Through workshops and community development groups, youth learn from one another and support one another as peers as many have faced similar challenges.  


According to Sri Lankan tradition, teenagers who finish school continue to live with and depend on their parents -- an arrangement that is often a financial hardship for struggling families. Compounding the problem is the fact that so few Sri Lankan teenagers are eligible to attend university. Of the 160,000 or so students who sit for entrance exams annually, only 12,000 are admitted. Nationally, some 300,000 youth leave school every year with no clearly-defined plans for their future.

The recent civil conflict and the 2004 tsunami worsened this situation. The January 2011 flooding in the East displaced thousands more. The disaster dislocated many parents, making them dependents themselves, robbing them of their ability to provide the necessary support for their adolescent sons and daughters. Many youth, with no job skills or life direction, suddenly became responsible for the care of their families.

WUSC helps teenagers from displaced families to better understand their own abilities and skills. It teaches them about social responsibility, encourages them to work for positive change in their communities and helps them to recognize their own potential.



WUSC’s Youth in Transition Project is made possible with the financial support from UNICEF.

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