Ambassador Teplitz’s Remarks at Opening of Khoonitheevu School

August 26, 2020

Distinguished guests, teachers, staff and students, as-salamu alaykum, Vannakum, Ayubowan and good morning. I’m pleased to be here today to help formally open this beautiful addition to the Khoonitheevu school, and most importantly, to meet with some of the engaging young people who are studying here. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join you today. I would also especially like to thank the students who have performed with great talent here this morning.

The future of Sri Lanka, as in all countries, is its youth, and that future depends on access to a quality education in a safe and nurturing environment. Together, the United States government and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education have invested 93 million rupees to build eight new classrooms, teacher rooms and bathroom facilities.

This new building offers a safe environment for students to explore new concepts and new ideas while also building a future for themselves and their community. It is both a privilege and responsibility that all adults share, to support and empower the children of today in their education. This school represents that: it’s an opportunity for Sri Lanka’s youth to learn, to examine, to challenge. It is especially important to offer these opportunities to young women and girls. The education of women has historically been overlooked in many societies, including my own. I’m pleased we can provide this assistance to both the girls and boys that will lead the next generation in Sri Lanka.

This new addition, however, will serve as more than just a center of learning. We are standing in a densely populated region that is unfortunately vulnerable to the growing danger of natural disasters. And because of this, we have cooperated with the Disaster Management Center to construct a building that can serve as an emergency shelter for the local population in times of need.

Over the past several years, the U.S. government has worked closely with the Eastern Province Ministry of Education and the Disaster Management Center to bring us to this day. I would like to thank them for their support and cooperation throughout this project. I would also thank our partners at Magbool Engineering Consultants and Hairu Engineering Consultants and the principal of this school. Additionally, I want to recognize the U.S Army Corps of Engineers for their essential contributions and the U.S. Embassy Civil Affairs teams past and present who made this all possible.

This cooperation is part of the U.S. Embassy and government’s support for a reconciled and unified Sri Lanka. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Sri Lankan government as it rebuilds the economy, advances good governance and the rule of law, and works to promote equal rights, human rights, and equal opportunity for all. I am honored and pleased to be here today to inaugurate a small piece of this vision.

Thank you.