College returns to Sri Lanka

Working with co-operatives in Sri LankaThe Co-operative College is building on its work developing co-operatives in Sri Lanka by returning for a second round of ‘Train the trainers’, as part of a project funded by Co-operatives UK on behalf of its members.

The College has previously worked to support the co-operative sector in Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami, and to promote the role of co-operatives in post-conflict development. The co-operative sector in the country is largely characterised by agricultural co-operatives, although new co-operatives have increasingly developed in areas such as fishing.

Following training led by College associates last year, Dr Cilla Ross, the College’s Vice Principal: Co-operative Education and Research, will spend two weeks in Sri Lanka, starting in Colombo before travelling to other areas of the country. Manuals and programmes have already been translated into Tamil, and Cilla will work alongside Associates Dr Linda Shaw and Stirling Smith to assist trainers in developing courses and outreach. The College team will also work with co-operative commissioners on topics such as how to create an effective co-operative enterprise, and how to hold participatory meetings. In addition, focus groups will be held around women’s leadership in co-operatives.

Working with co-operatives in Sri LankaIn addition, the College team will work with SANASA, the Sri Lankan federation of credit unions. Most villages in Sri Lanka have a credit union, and there is potential to work with credit unions to develop different types of co-operatives in the south and inner area of the country. Cilla will visit tea plantations and talk to local groups about their interests and needs, following a drop in the price of tea.

Cilla commented: “This work is interesting for me as, although I have worked on ‘Train the trainers’ programmes in Africa before, I have never visited Sri Lanka. The College, and the co-operative movement, has a long history of working with Sri Lankan co-operatives. As the College works to develop its international education offer, we hope to both build on both our existing work overseas as well as establishing new areas of work for the College.”

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