Peace Corps and Sri Lankan Ministry of Education sign memorandum of understanding

WASHINGTON – Today, Peace Corps/Sri Lanka Country Director Kris Besch and Sri Lankan Secretary to the Ministry of Education Sunil Hettiarachchi announced a new Memorandum of Understanding to formalize efforts to develop an English education sector. Chargé d’Affaires to Sri Lanka and Maldives Robert Hilton and Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam witnessed the signing at the Ministry of Education.

“The Peace Corps has a long history of partnership with the people of Sri Lanka, and I am honored to be here today to formally confirm our commitment,” said Besch. “I look forward to collaboration with the Ministry of Education, local schools and community partners as we develop our program, create new success stories and strengthen our long history of respect, partnership and friendship.”

The event was attended by leaders in the education sector, government officials and community members. An oil lamp was lit to formally commence the signing ceremony as is customary at important occasions in Sri Lanka. Head of the International Relations Department at University of Colombo Dr. Manisha Wanasinghe-Pasqual delivered keynote remarks. Chargé d’Affaires Hilton and Minister Kariyawasam delivered closing remarks expressing gratitude to everyone who made the new program possible.

“Let me welcome the Peace Corps back to Sri Lanka and once again thank our Sri Lankan partners for working with us in this great endeavor," said Hilton.

Peace Corps’ efforts in Sri Lanka will focus on English language education. Once in Sri Lanka, volunteers will undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their assignments to serve for two years. The first 25 Peace Corps volunteers are scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka in late 2019.

In 2016, the Government of Sri Lanka invited Peace Corps to return to work and assist in furthering the country’s development goals. A new bilateral agreement to re-establish the program was signed in February 2018. From 1962 to 1998, more than 370 Peace Corps volunteers served in Sri Lanka, working in education, health and youth development. 

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About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.

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