UNICEF Regional Ambassador for South Asia Sachin Tendulkar teams up with Sri Lanka’s children
As the country’s economy makes gradual recovery, 3.9 million people, including children, are unable to afford adequate food, and 4.8 million children are struggling to keep learning.
COLOMBO/ KATHMANDU, 8 August 2023: Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar visited Sri Lanka in his role as the UNICEF South Asia Regional Goodwill Ambassador. Sachin visited UNICEF programmes in the Sabaragamuwa Province and met with children and parents impacted by the COVID-pandemic and the 2022 economic crisis.
Tendulkar recalled warm memories associated with Sri Lanka during his earlier visits, both as a cricketer and as part of his engagements with UNICEF in 2015. He lauded the efforts of all government and non-government organisations in their efforts towards bringing a positive change despite challenging environments.
During the field mission, Sachin visited a pre-school, supported by UNICEF’s ongoing mid-day school meal programme, and helped serve nutrient-rich food to children. Since August 2022, UNICEF’s midday meal programme has been providing nutritious meals to 50,000 preschool children in nearly 1,400 schools across the country. The meal programme has also helped boost pre-school attendance.
“Children require a nutrient-rich diet and quality education to reach their full potential. By investing in their education and nutrition, we are not only investing in their future but also every country’s future,” said Sachin.
At another school Tendulkar visited, he observed teaching and learning activities for grade 3 children where many students shared their desire to stay in school and follow their dreams. Sachin then joined the senior school girls and boys on the pitch for a game of cricket.
“The children I spoke with, are showing great tenacity, and their hope for a better future remains strong. We need to continue supporting them so they keep achieving their goals,” added Sachin.
Tendulkar also visited families living in plantations, to understand their lives better. As part of the support for economic recovery, UNICEF provided cash transfers to more than 110,000 families with children up to two years of age to buy nutritious foods and other vital supplies needed for their children.
Tendulkar also took time to speak to a group of young people from Sri Lanka, in a close ‘Cricket Catch-Ups’ session during which he shared his experiences growing up, in overcoming obstacles, remaining resilient and focused in pursuing his goal. These young people are a part of the UNICEF-supported Children’s Club network of the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.
Sachin Tendulkar was appointed as the first UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia in 2013. Since then, he has been playing a pivotal role in improving the lives of children in South Asia.
Notes to the editors:
The economic crisis left almost 2.9 million children in need of humanitarian assistance and led to devastating financial setbacks for vulnerable children and their families. As the country moves towards economic recovery, prices remain high on essential items for nutrition and education, making it difficult for families to put meals on the table, or support their children’s learning. Even prior to the economic crisis, child malnutrition rates in Sri Lanka were quite high and the situation only worsened. Education has also been affected for 4.8 million children due to the pandemic and economic crisis. The Sri Lankan Government’s Ministry of Education data shows that only 15 per cent of Grade 3 students were able to achieve basic skills in literacy and numeracy. UNICEF recognises the commitment of the education authorities to prioritising learning recovery; however, more funding is needed from donors and development partners to boost ongoing efforts. Earlier this year, UNICEF made a global appeal for 28 million U.S Dollars to support the needs of children in Sri Lanka, of which only USD 17.5 million has been raised so far, and resources are needed to support the nutrition, education, and protection for the most vulnerable children in the country.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) works with UNICEF Country Offices in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to help to save children’s lives, defend their rights, and help them fulfil their potential. For more information about UNICEF’s work for children in South Asia, visit www.unicef.org/rosa and follow UNICEF ROSA on Twitter and Facebook.