A Masters worth its Salt: Master of Development Practice, Peradeniya Uni

GAYA FERNANDO

[Re-posting this from 2012 Dec ]

Some people get into development work without a clue as to what it’s all about. They joined up to a corps of people who wanna make the world a better place. That’s fine.

Then there are professionals who slog away at commercial jobs and half-way take a break, unwind in the mountains or beaches of Sri Lanka and wonder if this is all there is to life. Then they apply with their corporate skills and experience for jobs in the non-profit sector. That’s great!

Some people are very career-minded and would like to start out with a degree in an area that will give them experience in working with communities and are interested in the concept of sustainable development.  That’s wonderful !

Oh yes, and what about the experienced employees in NGOs who think they are too ‘senior’ to come into a University classroom and take on a challenge sitting beside the young hopefuls twenty-something but are crazy about getting a Masters in the area of work they love?

Well, all of you are absolutely welcome !

Master of Development Practice (MDP) at Peradeniya

“Sri Lanka and its neighbours face compelling challenges as they move toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the context of pursuing a sustainable development agenda. These include threats from climate change, vulnerability to natural disasters, rapid urbanization, demographic change, persistent and substantial levels of poverty and malnutrition especially in lagging regions and among vulnerable groups. Addressing these complex issues requires professionals with many areas of core knowledge, practical skills and an interdisciplinary approach” MDP, Peradeniya University website

Why it is innovative and unique

There are some features of this MDP that make it an incredibly practical and workable challenge to those committed to development. They are not listed in order of importance.

FIRST, the MDP is open to those who may not have a University degree but instead may be able to meet the equivalent in terms of experience. We could give you a few courses you may need but the gates are not barred; they are open.

SECOND,  the MDP is conducted entirely on weekends so those who are working full-time as most of us do, can travel up to Peradeniya on the weekends when lectures are held.

THIRD, it’s just great that the MDP is inter-disciplinary, drawing on humanities, social sciences, management, law, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, to name a few. And this inter-disciplinary thinking gets you good marks with UN and NGOs, non-profit sector as the work at hand demands this perspective rather than expertise in one discipline.

FOURTH, the MDP can place the students in ‘placements’ for their field work in unique locations and working with top-notch Development orgs, the range and scope of which cannot be rivalled by any other Masters in this field.

FIFTH, the faculty, the liaisons and connections with Columbia University and the global network makes this Masters a valuable experience and one that will give you the insight and professional knowledge to further your career and to expand your perspectives on Sustainable Development.

Applications for the following academic year 2016/17 are NOW OPEN  Dec-Feb. Please see the student resources page on the MDP website for details and for your easy reference here is the Applications Page.

Student Testimonials :

“when I found out about the new approach focusing more on field training and the inter-disciplinary course content itself, covering geography, biology, statistics and economics (which should be essentially included if the development practitioner is to design and implement projects that would benefit different aspects of life of the beneficiaries) it made more sense and yes, I thought this is it!”  Natasha Yatawara. Read her story from Gambia in this interview.

The Master of Development Practice is a programme in 17 countries.  The Peradeniya University is one of the five Asian universities to be included in the global MDP network. It’s a Masters programme worth its salt. iSrilankan is proud to promote its benefits to the Sri Lankan local and international student community.

Like the MDP Facebook Page  right away and you can keep up with the news and updates easily.

The images of Peradeniya University above and the collage below are credited to Kalpa Rajapaksha

Special Call-out: MDP Peradeniya deadline 29 Feb 2016

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The deadline for applications  is February 29,  2016. This year as well, I repeat the special call-out for a Masters in Development Practice due to its uniqueness: An opportunity for those who do not hold a Bachelor’s degree to offer their valuable experience in development work as a requirement to qualify in a program designed to deliver, creating an environment in which student-professionals  find that rare interdisciplinary space in Sri Lanka to debate and challenge each other.

Please read the post on the Masters below on the website A Masters worth its Salt or here.
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NOT the national anthem !

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Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls [Read more…]

Happy Independence to Diverse Srilanka!

 

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Maskeliya, Sri Lanka. Image Credits: Deepthi Peiris,

So we got our land back from the British and before that the Dutch and Portuguese. It’s one hell of a land with mind-blowing pics of each strand of sea n foam, pasture and plain, paddyfield and rubber estate, coconut palms to the south and palmyrah to the north, sunrise on white sands in Nilaveli, the gorgeous Arugam Bay and Passekudah, and sunset on Galle Face and golden sands of Mount Lavinia to Bentota.

And we have the blue whales and dolphins and what-not. We’ve got what looks like a rainforest in the middle of a dry zone— if I’ve got it right—by visiting Ritigala, A glimpse of Adam’s Peak which is paradise in the morning mist and the majestic elephants, crocodiles and yes, the birdlife of Kumana.

Nope, that’s not all. We’ve got opportunistic politicians and bloody history and chauvinism and a threat from extremist militant Buddhist monks calling themselves the BBS and yes, enough people who forget how amazing life can be in Sri Lanka.

We’ve got more diversity on this little 68 410 sq. m. (that’s my memory from parisaraya days and Wiki says 65, 610 (snort)) teardrop isle than you can imagine. We’ve got (very broadly speaking) four faiths and four ethnicities and  on a single road a church, a mosque, a temple—at times side by side.  Diversity is no easy game and preservation is going to need a higher sensibility than displayed by many politicians in the past.

 

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Mosque and church on Vivekananda Hill. Image Credits: Vasee

Geography and a divine indulgence gave us this diversity, and deities not unlike the Greek Gods, it appeared, cruel and playful with human life, were determining the fates of humans on this island. But as a non-believer I do not blame the Gods or the British. I blame ourselves, our politically opportunistic, immature, violent and chauvinistic leaders and those who took the cue from them. Simple really.

But today the national anthem was sung in Thamil. Perhaps one of the first steps of national reconciliation along a road well trodden already at the popular level by (extra)ordinary people who are putting the past behind them and moving on with the business of multiethnic coexistence. Why is it important?  Because reconciliation is only of credible value when it is sanctioned by the State.

All the good intentions of the  Sinhalese and Tamils and Muslims are of nought if the State does not lead in national measures and a national process of addressing the past and dealing with memory, trauma and the conflict. A book by that very name was published on the Irish Troubles by Graham Dawson. I think we can do better than Ireland if we demanded this from our Government. Because we have homegrown diversity and this would lend an energy and new interpretation to a new land and a transformation of conflict rather than forget an issue that continues to grow between just two factions.

As Sayed Kashua, an Arab in Israel, author of Second Person Singular and whose uniqueness is writing in Hebrew puts it (quoting from memory)

I am living in a country where I will not be part of the narrative, where the narrative does not have me in it, I have no hope for the Palestinian problem and for my people. I have hope even for Egypt, for Syria, they are making their futures and will make something of their countries in the future even if right now, what they are making of it looks bad. But for us, I have no hope, no hope at all. And this is a great sadness. I wish my country were like others, a normal country, well, what is normal? It’s a country where everyone hates the government and each lives according to his bank account. I wish we were like that. Normal.

I think we, unlike Sayed Kashua can now wish for many things; we have dreams, hopes and desires. We have a government we can afford to criticize and less said of the bank account the better ;). But we were once Sayed Kashua. Let us not forget so easily how much we nearly lost forever. I never thought I would have this wish come true in my lifetime. It has.

Let’s determine to preserve our land, our flora and fauna, our diverse peoples and their diverse aspirations to be treated as equally as others. We have destroyed so much, let us take pride in the Thamil version of the national anthem if it means that it is a step towards preservation of this Diversity.

Yes, that is a wish for independent, diverse Sri Lanka!

These are a few wishes that came in time for this post from a few spots around the world where they live right now. I posted the ones that were sent it without selection. All were born and bred in Sri Lanka and Gary did time by coming home alone to get to know his motherland for a year or so.

I was happy to hear the national anthem sung in Tamil at the end of the official ceremony. I happened to be watching the live telecast on Rupavahini today. When they opened with just the Sinhala rendition, I thought here we go again. But was pleasantly surprised at the end.  Though I wish in future there is less display of military might (MBRLs, really?) and more cultural events.
Vasee, Australia (now holidaying in Sri Lanka)

“Honestly, with singing the national anthem in both Sinhala and Tamil, I feel like my wishes for the day has come true. For the year to come, I hope for more of this, more reaching out, more “eka mavakage dharu kela bavina, yamu yamu vee nopamaa”.
Nushelle, USA

Happy independence day Sri Lanka! You have more that unites you than divides you. The children of your land  have no real, telling differences: nothing that says you are Sinhalese or Tamil, Moors, Malays, Memons, Bohras, Burghers or Eurasian. Each one just as sun-kissed and unruly-haired as the child next to him/her. The squeals of delight, those eyes that twinkle with mischief- they choose no race nor religion to divide. You have more that unites you than divides you
       Iman Hameed, Singapore

My thoughts on Independence Day: Certain Sinhalese and Tamils should change their attitude. They should just see the country as Sri Lanka not just a sinhala country and tamils, not as a separate country in Sri Lanka.  We need justice for the war victims. And yes, I hope in the next few years that religious extremism should be sorted out with zero tolerance . And the people of Sri Lanka should be able to elect super governors in future. We should all explore every part of this little island to love it more. My wish is  just  to see a happy Sri Lanka.
        Arvind, Jaffna

 

Happy Independence Day, Sri Lanka! We’ve had a rough ride. I spend half my life fending off Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism and Tamil aspirational separatism. Alas, I love you like the nationalist fool that I am. We all need a place to call our own. You are mine. Forever and always. xx
Gary, Australia

I’m going to quote..(nearly)… Roosevelt. He said it all… “Here is our country. Cherish these natural wonders. Cherish the natural resources. Cherish the history and romance and the ugly truths as a sacred heritage… for our children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish or greedy interests skin our country of its beauty, its riches or peace.”
Kasuni, London

Was glad with the Anthem sung in Tamil. I wish the majority would give the mandate to the government for proper reconciliation, even at times if they feel they are sacrificing a bit. For example, if they think, singing the National Anthem in Tamil may be a dignity issue for Sinhalese, they can forgo this, just as a compromise, which actually doesn’t cost them anything, but contributes to a national and genuine reconciliation.  The anthem sung in Tamil is not what I mean, the bigger picture needs a lot more understanding, and I hope we all strive for that.
Danny Subramaniam, Jaffna

“Let us look forward to goodness that will prevail over bias for a better tomorrow”
Fazli Sameer, Saudhi Arabia

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Featured Image on slider Credits: Isuri Merenchi Hewage

 

 

 

In Benghazi today or Jaffna then, the teachers kept on teaching despite the shelling!

The BBC reported this today on a school reopening in Beghazi and I was reminded of what the Jaffna teacher said …

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Do you remember Johnny Batta? The irony of it all…

A comment on De-Mining Sri Lanka: A Job for Widows and Survivors

Screen shot 2016-01-19 at 11.40.22 AMRead Smriti Daniel’s article on Al-Jazeera published on 12 January 2016. Enter a world you didn’t know existed, but one which Vimaleswaran Gunamala, Ananda Chandrasiri, Damian O’ Brien of the HALO trust —and even His Excellency the British High Commissioner James Dauris, who previously in Columbia knew de-mining and HALO’s work and visited Kilinochchi last May—are fully aware of.

This is Mahumalai, Kilinochchi in the baking heat of a northern sun.

The LTTE laid a circle of explosives around a well where soldiers might stop for water or in the gardens of homes they abandoned to the advancing Sri Lankan army. Mines have been found in pots of curd and plastic cricket bats.

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Don’t miss out on Kenan Malik in Galle, Colombo or Jaffna!

Screen shot 2016-01-13 at 2.15.12 PMA must-see, must-hear, writer-lecturer-broadcaster is in town—Kenan Malik— the author of the book I am reading right now and one of the cleverest dudes of our times.

Which town? If you glance to the right you will see the ‘what’s on’ listings of  the three listed events in Galle, Colombo and Jaffna as part of the Galle Literary Festival 2016. For the lazies, the Galle literary dinner is on the 16th January at the Galle Fort Hotel, the talk at the British Council Library with Smriti Daniel is on 20th and the Jaffna Public Library event on the 23rd January. How lucky they are; how jealous I am.

I discovered Kenan Malik right after the Paris attacks. His After Paris post on his blog Pandaemonium was refreshingly lucid and plotted the factors that many jihadi-junkies failed to draw together to create the admittedly-grey none-too-clear map of the nature and unknown multi-cause of radical extremism in Europe, today.

Then there was the analysis of multiculturalism. Clever writers you thank from the depths of your non-racist, shocked-by-Trump, non-convert-to-media-bullshit-awe, Self. Thanks for being clever and actually putting it out there from an angle that comes with a background in neurobiology and philosophy and an interest in ideas, race, immigration, religion, the works.

Screen shot 2016-01-13 at 2.13.46 PMI am jealous. Reading The Quest for a Moral Compass, I wished that I had bought a ticket to be there at the GLF to hear Malik on home soil. How amazing Galle is as a backdrop to the arts: the beauty of the snow-white mosque overlooking the coast where the Portuguese named Galle after the proverbial rooster ‘galo’, the Dutch fort reclining on its haunches (claimed by many since), and the crows, rocks, restaurants, peddlar street cafes and sunset waders, all bringing Galle, the southern heel of Sri Lanka, to life.

I wish I were there to hear him. Instead, I am in London. So please do go in my place and read the book if you can lay your hands on it. If not, let me know and I’ll try to bring a copy in April for selected souls who will repay the favour with a nice hopper dinner or crab curry;)  I am sure you will find it stimulating your grey cells, your belief and your desires for your society in this odd phase of human evolution. He wrote others, but right now I am deep in this one, and so you understand.

Screen shot 2016-01-13 at 12.11.15 PMThe GLF as it is known may not have an easy ride—as nothing ever has in Sri Lanka—as the tuk-tuk ride through the years of organised events and exercising discretion, reveals. It takes courage, as ‘Shyam-courage in the time of boycotting’ showed, takes belief and effort and thankless tireless passion and drive. So a vote of thanks to all those who stick their neck out rooster-fashion to crow in another GLF: For a tsunami-flooded, war-battered and post-colonial country, we have another event that brings in the world to a corner of paradise we know so well: Good on you!

 

 

 

 

To Mr. President with love

By Lifeisnotabeach

Dear Mr President,

It is one year since I woke up to an ‘aha!’ moment in my life… A long awaited sense of freedom, not just freedom from terror, but also freedom of speech, freedom of living a life devoid of constant fear of being ‘watched and listened to’,  a violation of basic human rights,  stolen from us for over a decade.  I also woke up to the hope of a clam on ‘excessive corruption’, cronyism, nepotism, lawlessness aScreen shot 2016-01-11 at 5.52.01 PMnd political thuggery, to name a few. Yes Mr President, I jumped out of bed on the 8th of January 2015, realizing that the nightmare was over and it was going to be a fresh start for the country with a rainbow coalition lighting up our land. Many ridiculed me for my wishful thinking. But I am an eternal optimist Mr President, just to let you know. Read more

Image of the Week

sunset sri lanka
 
“The setting sun flames up the sky. The sea is like molten lava. The people frolic in carefree abandon. It’s 2015 signing off.” Lilamani Benson
 
Gaya: ‘Peace in a time of grumbling’ on good governance and new governments may be the chirp of the times, but such cameos of carefree fun in paradise remind us how far better off we are now in contrast to the uncertain no-hope dawns of consecutive new years, not so long ago.
 
LilamaniLilamani Benson is best known for being herself—Lilamani—rather than Founder and CEO of a leading advertising agency or as an artist. As Lilamani, she inflames her art, her ideas business and life with flamboyance and passion. This casual shot she took on her phone on New Year’s Eve is used with permission.

 

Soap Opera – Brahmanawatte

I wouldn’t dare introduce Renu. She is a poet who doesn’t give a damn whether you read her poetry or not, a creator of food fusion that follows mood and emotion as one who is in a continuous sensual dance of life, which you may only sense by her writings, not imitate or follow. That is, until she decided to host a blog: Fenugreek from which, if I am good, posts could be shared on iSrilankan, which will touch a chord with many Sri Lankans living on this planet; most of all, with those who live away from where it all began.
 
RENUKA MENDIS
 
“My father is dead. For a few years now his body parts have been educating someone in some medical faculty somewhere.

From time to time when I go to the Tamil shop I buy a certain soap. Not that I make a list and go looking for it. I just see it and my hand reaches out and it follows me home…Read more

Rani soap