Aug 13, 2018

Peace Corps returns to Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Secretary to the Ministry of Education Sunil Hettiarachchi and Peace Corps/Sri Lanka Country Director Kris Besch signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on August 09 to formalize support for English education by bringing U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers back to Sri Lanka.

Peace Corps volunteers were present in Sri Lanka from 1962 to 1998. The Peace Corps Crisis Corps, now Peace Corps Response, also assisted in recover efforts following the 2004 tsunami.

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.

In his remarks, Chargé Hilton recalled the founding of the Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and its long history of service in Sri Lanka. The current support for English teaching, he stated, would unlock the doors of opportunity for all Sri Lankans.

The event was attended by leaders in the education sector, government officials, and community members.

The first 25 American Peace Corps Volunteers will arrive in Sri Lanka in late 2019 and undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their assignments to serve for two years.

Peace Corps’ efforts in Sri Lanka will focus on English language education and supporting the Ministry of Education, schools, and community groups in coordination with the Sri Lankan English Teachers’ Association. They will complement several other English teaching programs funded the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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.