“Opening of the SLFTI marks the new historic peak in the relations between Sri Lanka and Germany” – Says HE Dr Juergen Morhard – Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Sri Lanka and Maldives.

HE Hon President Maithripala Sirisena

Ladies and Gentlemen and of course the group that matters most: DEAR STUDENTS!!!!!

It is a great honor and a day of joy for me to be here today to open the SLGTI!

This is not only a highlight of my 4 years as Ambassador to Sri Lanka; it is also a very special honor to do this together with HE, the President of HE Sri Lanka Maithriphala Sirisena.

Moreover this opening day marks the end of tenure as Ambassador to Sri Lanka as I will leave the country in exactly one week from today.

This opening marks the new historic peak in the relations between Sri Lanka and Germany; it will mark the era of very close and trustful cooperation and partnership between the both countries under the wise and foresighted new foreign policy and guidance of HE the President

More than 50 years ago, the opening of the German Technical Institute in Moratuwa marked the excellent cooperation between German and Sri Lanka for many decades to come at that point of time.

This new vocational training school, the SLGTI in Kilinochchi will certainly mark again for many decades to come the new quality of bilateral relations achieved between the 2 countries over the last 18 months.

Since I arrived in 2012, I always gave special attention to this project. I still remember the first years of passing regularly by and only standing outside the fence waiting impatiently for the construction to begin.

Then finally, a little more than 2 years ago, my Swiss colleague and I were present to the laying of the foundations stone.

Thereafter, I had numerous visits to the site to watch the progress. I had the honor to welcome the German Foreign Minister here last years and of course, you, HE, the President of Sri Lanka.

I did not only visit the construction site, no I did also visit many time the adjunct vocational training schools in the North and the East. Those schools were rehabilitated by the GIZ and funded by Germany and jointly with the government of Switzerland. On those occasions I could also get a first-hand impression of the high motivation and eagerness of all the students enrolled. I could witness their progress in acquiring skills, I could witness their progress in language abilities, but most of all, I could witness growing personalities, a growing self-confidence in their skills, their abilities and their future.

Basic education, acquiring skills, vocational excellence, all this is about future- the future to find a job, the future to develop a country, and the future to secure sufficient income to have a own family.

Vocational training and skilled labor force are also the backbone of the future of the former wore torn regions, the Northern and the Eastern province of Sri Lanka.

After 30 years of war, the opening of this training institution in Kilinochchi gives a clear message of reconciliation. SLGTI is a National Level Vocational Training Institute open to individuals from all parts of the country, guaranteeing equal access to all races, religions, genders and individuals at all levels of physical capability. The only criterion for eligibility is educational.

The availability of dormitory facilities make it possible for students from other districts to attend the institute and the establishment of the Day Care center will allow young mothers to take advantage of this opportunity to develop career skills. The entire facility is designed for accessibility by differently-abled individuals ensuring they are not limited from reaching their own goals.

More than 1000 young women and men applied for the SLGTI, and we are happy that we can open the center today on July 18 – even if some of the equipment will take more time to arrive, the trainings can start!

On this occasion I would like to greet the selected new students to the school – Welcome to the school, welcome to the training, welcome to new opportunities opening up for all of you!

I am very pleased to note that 24% of the students are female applicants.

I am equally pleased to note the more than 20% of the students come from other regions than the North and the East,

Thus the SLGTI and Kilinochchi, which is already hosting other educational institutions, will develop into a national educational hub.

Landies and Gentlemen, on this occasion, I would also like to welcome the new director the school as well as the new staff. The vocational formation of this young generation will now be in your hands.

The Sri Lankan – German Training Institute (SLGTI) is a gift to Sri Lanka.  The physical structure of the new SLGTI as well as the equipment is financed by the German development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), whereas GIZ will be responsible for training and capacity development.

It is important for me, that this school should not be a self-servicing purpose. The skills taught and trained here should help to bring the economy of the country forward; they should provide Sri Lanka companies, business and industries with appropriate educated workforce.

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Thus, the private sector collaboration with the SLGTI will be crucial to ensure that the training that is offered by its trainers is oriented towards the requirement of the market. Therefore, the close link to the private sector, to companies is of utmost importance.

The industries need to support this effort. There are a growing number of German private sector companies who will need solid skilled workers for their industries. I encourage those – as well as all other industries in the country – to join hands with the SLGTI to work together towards building the lives and skills of these young men and women.

The private sector must play their role, not only by just hiring these students but also by providing them opportunities for on-the-job training, participating in the elaboration of curricula and training programs for the center in order to train the employees they need.

I am optimistic that such collaboration will be a win-win situation for both the industries and the trainees. I am happy that representatives from German companies are participating here today and I will make special sales-pitch for the cooperation with SLGTI while meeting with the German Sri Lanka Business Council coming Thursday. I am very happy that quite a number of representatives of private companies are here with us today.

Personally, I wish that this training center will become more than school. With its facilities it should serve as center for many activities and events beyond the vocational training. In the years to come the German and Swiss Embassy will hopeful make the institute a home for their cultural activities in the Northern Province.

Let me conclude now by wishing the new students and the teaching team good luck and successful school years! Might the training and the vocational skill bring you all a bright future!

Moreover, I would like to take this opportunity to say good-by to the Northern Province of Sri Lanka and its people. This region was always my favorite destination in the country. My family and I visited many times the beautiful shores and the almost untouched islands of the North. It is not excluded that I might consider retiring there one day.

HE the President, Hon Chief Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, I did not only exceed the given time for my speech, but I am coming close to exceed also my tenure as Ambassador to Sri Lanka.

It was remarkable time for me professionally; full of positive changes for the betterment of the country, its people and of course the relations between Sri Lanka and Germany.

Also on behalf of my family, I would like to say thank you for all the kind support, thank you for the generous hospitality we could enjoy wherever we went, thank for the many dear friendships, and thank you for the thousand smiles, thank you for 4 very very exceptional years in our life.

We wish Sri Lanka, its people and you all personally the very best!

Hon Pres. Sirisena, Ladies and Gentlemen and beautiful Sri Lanka: FAREWELL!

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