Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) comprises of 15 top ranked universities in Asia addressing regional and global challenges, specifically related to higher education by strengthening collaboration among member institutions. AUA acknowledges and promotes shared identity and values in working towards this mission.
This year University of Colombo (UoC) will be hosting the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) Executive Meeting from 21st to 22nd and AUA Youth Forum (AUAYF) from 25th – 29th November 2019 under the theme “Wellbeing Beyond Health”.
The AUA Youth Forum (AUAYF) is a flagship program organized by the AUA executive presidency every year which is held this year by Senior Professor Chandrika N Wijeyaratne Vice Chancellor university of Colombo Sri Lanka and her local team which includes former Vice Chancellor Senior Professor Lakshman Dissanayake.
Nearly 50 selected undergraduate student leaders from the 15 AUA member universities will address developmental issues in the region and promote cultural and academic exchange during an interactive five day program lined up for this year. The AUAYF 2019 believes that these empowered youth will form a nucleus of change agents, for health, economic and social development of Asia for the future. The program will be preceded by nearly 50 Vice Chancellors/Chief Executive Officers of the member universities who will be at UoC from 20th -22nd of November for the AUA executive meeting.
The exponential rise of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Asia causing highest premature death and disability with escalating health, economic and social burden in the member countries has driven AUAYF/AUAEM to adopt “Wellbeing Beyond Health” as the theme this year. This theme is aligning with the Sustainable Development Goal # 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) by the United Nations where the event is officially endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Razia Pendse, WHO representative in Sri Lanka will be delivering the keynote address followed by interactive outcome based sessions conducted by an internationally accredited faculty of experts from medicine, law, IT, social sciences, policy, music and the performing arts from University of Colombo and its alumni.
The sessions include group activities, presentations, field visits and panel discussions, which will be held at UoC, and will focus how the Asian youth can take leadership to modify human behavoural risk factors (e.g. unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, harmful use of alcohol, use of tobacco and addictive substance, engage in risk behavior and reduced mental health) and their social, environmental and commercial determinants to prevent NCDs (including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases). There will be a special emphasis to identify unexplored future challenges created by the rise of the ‘digital age’ and how youth can define and achieve ‘wellbeing’ at an individual, community and policy level. The indoor activities will be conducted with the state of the art auditorium and lectures theaters at University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC).
The program is further enriched to promote social and cultural exchange where Sri Lankan traditional healing, music, drama, dance, art and sports will be used in hands-on skill sessions conducted at an eco-friendly environment located at the Sri Palee Campus of UoC Horana, 45 km away from the Colombo city. Sri Lanka Tourism have partnered with UOC in this endeavor, in taking forward and portraying our identity to a wider audience. AUAYF 2019 wishes to create diverse opportunities to the participants experiencing how the art, entertainment and tourism sectors can be partnered to achieve Health and Wellbeing and in strengthening inter-sectorial collaborations.
The exposure to diverse and rich cultures from the Middle-East to the Far-East will enable the Sri Lankan university undergraduates to shape their skills and attitudes to face the modern world and help our nation thrive forward in harmony. The University of Colombo further plans to deliver the lessons learned from this forum to the Sri Lankan school children who will be the next generation to embrace and sustain the important messages of wellbeing. In concurrence the UoC will formally inaugurate its Annual Research Symposium and celebration of its commencement 150 years ago under the able guidance of Professor Naazima Kamardeen.
The organizing committee is comprised of local AUA secretariat International Office of UoC under the guidance of its director Dr Sashika Manorathne, academic, administrative and support staff and nearly 100 volunteer undergraduates from UoC. They have organized a wonderful program from affording a special welcome to all AUA delegates, international students and multiple stakeholders for the AUAYF 2019, to developing a strong network for exchanging ideas and helping everyone to take home cherished memories of experiencing ‘Wellbeing Beyond Health’ in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian ocean.
Dr Chathuranga Ranasinghe
MBBS (Col), D.Sp.Med. (Col), PhD (QUT-Aus)
Chairperson, AUAYF 2019. University of Colombo, Sri Lanka