To help people, especially young people and students, deal with their emotions effectively, appropriately and productively; to develop positive social interactions with other people in society, also of different culture, ethnicity and religion: with these purposes, particularly useful in the social fabric of Sri Lanka, a nation wounded by over 25 years of interethnic war, the Catholic Church has launched a special program of “emotional literacy” in schools. As Agenzia Fides reported, Caritas Sri Lanka, the social service of the Catholic Bishops of Sri Lanka, has selected 12 schools spread over six dioceses to start the seminars. The goal of this project is to increase well-being and endurance among school students to contact, recognize and handle their emotions. This will also be useful in preventing self-harm that in some cases leads to attempted suicide by young people. In addition, through this program, school teachers will also be able to understand their role and identify signs of suffering in children.
As part of the program, Caritas Sri Lanka has trained a group of Sinhalese ethnic and cultural counselors and Tamil mediums who visit the different schools. The counselors of Jaffna, Mannar, and Trincomalee operate with the support of the well-known psychiatrist consultant Dr. Sivathas Sivasubramanium. “The program will begin soon and will involve 12 schools. Children will learn to have healthy mental well-being and the assistance and psychological support provided will improve social cohesion”, says to Fides Dr. Sivasubramanium.
The emotional literacy program acquires particular importance as children have suffered greatly in the past due to the bloody civil war of Sri Lanka, which started in 1983 and lasted 26 years. The war, which caused around 100,000 victims, was fought on ethnic grounds between the Tamil rebels and the Sinhalese majority government. The two communities were also divided by a religious factor, being the Sinhalese (75% of the population) of the Buddhist religion, and the Tamils (11% of the population) of Hindu religion, out of a population of about 22 million inhabitants.