General Certificate in Education (Ordinary Level) Exams Results; the outcome of Secondary Enrichment Programs

The results of last year’s GCE (Ordinary Level) Examinations were released recently and demonstrate that enrichment classes provided to students by Rose Charities Sri Lanka have led to remarkable improvements in student performance. Last year, 461 students from 9 schools received after school enrichment prior to writing their O/L exams. These examinations are difficult for any student to pass, particularly students who come from underdeveloped and isolated villages in the Eastern Province but, on average, the students who received enrichment showed a significant improvement in every subject.

The results from one school, Vellavely Kalaimahal Mahavidyealayam, illustrate what the Secondary Enrichment Program has been able to accomplish. In 2010, before enrichment classes were introduced, the pass rate for science exams was 19%. In 2011, the rate had increased to 26%. In mathematics, only 27% of those who wrote the exam in 2010 passed. Last year, however, 60% of students succeeded in passing the exam. The most astonishing improvement, however, was in the English exam results. In 2010, the pass rate for students writing the O/L exam in English at this school was just under 5%. A single year of Secondary Enrichment administered by Rose resulted in a 2011 pass rate of 50%. These results are a testament to the hard work of the students and the dedication of Rose’s experienced teaching staff. This school achieved an overall pass rate of 60% for all exams attempted, which was markedly higher than in previous years. Of the 41 students who were writing the O levels for the first time in 2011, 23 passed.

Rose Charities Sri Lanka is set to resume GCE (Ordinary Level) enrichment classes in May of this year and it is hoped that the outstanding results of last year’s beneficiaries will be matched or exceeded this year.

Secondary Enrichment Program 2012

This year, Rose Charities Sri Lanka is providing free enrichment courses for 40 students in the arts stream in preparation for the August sitting of the GC (Advanced Level) Examination. These students will be writing the GC Exams for the second time and, with extra instruction and the help of review books prepared by Rose, it is expected that many of these young men and women will be able to pass the exam this time around and go on to continue their studies at university.

Five teachers working out of one education centre have been prepping these students after school since March. The program will continue through the month of July, after which the students will write the exam. English enrichment is provided by Rose’s Education Coordinator, Mr. N. Raveendran, who traverses the unpaved roads of this area by motorcycle day after day to teach English to students in isolated rural villages. The inhabitants of these villages could not afford to pay tutors even if they were available. It is only through Rose’s Enrichment Program that they can get the effective extra classes which they need to score well on the GC Exams.

These students are all from the Porathivupattu D.S. Division which lies on the border between Ampara and Batticaloa Districts. This area was completely isolated for decades while being held by the LTTE and suffered badly in the final campaigns of the Civil War. Years after the conclusion of hostilities, this area continues to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of education, income, and infrastructure.

There are almost no opportunities for young people in this area and a widespread feeling of hopelessness is one of the driving factors behind high rates of alcoholism, criminality, and violence. Education is one of the best means of reversing this trend and Rose has been assisting students in this area to improve their performance in primary, secondary, and university studies. The Secondary Enrichment Program is one of the most successful aspects of our work in Porathivupattu and previous years’ results have shown a dramatic improvement in students’ exam scores after having received after school enrichment.

Primary Enrichment Program – 2012

For the third year in a row, Rose Charities Sri Lanka conducted afterschool tutorial sessions in rural communities as part of our ongoing Primary Enrichment Program (PEP.) In Sri Lanka, every grade five student must face a standardized, government-administered exam, the results of which can prove as determinative of his or her future academic career as the SATs do for North American high school students.

Firstly, children who pass the National Scholarship Exam win a small, annual stipend to defray the costs of their subsequent schooling. In Sri Lanka, tuition from primary school all the way through university is paid for by the government but ancillary costs like transportation, uniforms, books, and extracurricular sports are the responsibility of the students’ families. These expenses can prove to be an unsupportable burden for families of limited mean. This often makes it difficult for disadvantaged children to pursue their educations as far as their talents would take them.

More significant than the money, however, is the fact that top-scoring students of the NSE have the option of continuing their studies at better-equipped, urban high schools. Taken as a whole, the education system in Sri Lanka is one of the best in the majority world but, unfortunately, the considerable resources which the country invests in education are not evenly distributed.

Many high schools in rural communities do not have the facilities needed to teach any science courses and, consequently, students who attend them cannot sit any Ordinary Level examinations in physics, chemistry or biology. It is still possible to earn a place at university but those that do will be restricted in the fields of study for which they are eligible and what jobs they can eventually get. It is not surprising that many families living in the countryside are willing to accept the increased expense of sending their children to a prestigious and well-funded high school in the city.

Even though parents are more than willing to make these sacrifices, very often they do not even get the opportunity to do so. The NSE is administered in an ostensibly egalitarian way and every child in the country writes the same exam and competes for the same number of scholarships in a single pool. In practice, however, this arrangement disadvantages impoverished rural students because better-off urban children have access to extracurricular tutorials and the means to pay for them. Rural children have neither of these things and yet they must compete against those that do. The playing field is, therefore, no more even before they begin high school than it is afterwards.

PEP was created to ensure that as many primary school children as possible get the opportunity to take part in afterschool tutorials in preparation for the NSE. Demand for the program was immediate and has only increased in succeeding years. The classes give instruction in the two core subjects of the Scholarship Exam and this year 870 students are enrolled in the program, which offers afterschool classes three days a week in 17 different locations. Two of the communities are so isolated, however, that it is not even possible for one of our teachers to reach them on a regular basis. These villages have been supplied with educational materials, including model exam papers, which the children are able to work through under local supervision. All of these materials, like the instruction of our trained teachers, are given to the children free of charge.

Students who pass the Scholarship Exam are far less likely to drop out before at least completing their O Levels and we expect that the increased pass rate which has been observed as a direct result of our program will have a long-term impact on social and economic progress of rural Sri Lanka.

International Women’s Day Celebrations of Rose Women Clubs

On March 17th, Rose Women’s Groups held a large conference to celebrate International Women’s Day. Over 1000 women from various communities in Ampara District met at the E.L.I. Auditorium in Kalmunai to discuss the themes of the conference, which were “Empowering Rural Women” and “Ending Hunger and Poverty.”

The conference was organized by the Rose Women’s Group coordinator Ms. M. Nilujani and the chairperson was Ms. Kethika Subramaniam, one of the many outstanding young women who have benefitted from the work of Rose Charities Sri Lanka in and around Kalmunai. Ms. Kethika participated in secondary school enrichment classes run by Rose Charities which helped her to excel on her A Level exams and win a place at the University of Vavuniya. She continued her education with the help of a scholarship provided by Education Generation and, in 2011 she received a Bachelor’s Degree in ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and was immediately hired by her university, where she continues to work.

The panel featured local government officials, Rose Charities program staff, and representatives of several locally-active N.G.Os and community-based organizations. After a brief opening ceremony a series of speakers addressed the assembled women on the issues facing their communities. A Human Rights Investigating Officer gave a speech about women’s rights and the Area Development and Planning Officer spoke about the government’s role in ensuring local security and development. The most empowering speeches were delivered by prominent women from the various levels of government.

This conference also functioned as an AGM for all of the Rose Women’s Groups and they took the opportunity to bring their personal perspectives to bear on the future direction of the program. The conference was closed with a vote of thanks to everyone who had been involved in organizing the event and every woman was presented with an umbrella- indispensible in Sri Lanka, rain or shine¬- emblazoned with the Rose logo. These umbrellas are a common sight in the villages around Kalmunai and serve to symbolize the feelings of unity and solidarity between and within the groups.

Sports Event among Rose Girls Clubs – 2012

On February 26th, Rose Charities Srilanka hosted the annual Rose Girl’s Clubs Sports Meet. Girls between the ages of 12 and 16, representing all eleven clubs in Ampara District, began arriving early in the morning to test their athletic skills in a number of games and events. As in previous years, the meet was held on a grand scale- there were 260 participants- and served to showcase the high standard of coaching which the girls received over the preceding year as well as their innate talent and good sportsmanship.

Each team represented their own village in spirited games of basketball, volleyball, netball, cricket, and elle (pronounced el-lay, this is a traditional Sri Lankan game, similar to baseball, but played with a bat made from a section of bamboo culm.) In addition, the girls braved the midday heat to run a number of track and field events which tested their endurance and speed under the most adverse conditions. Having trained for months in anticipation of this day, the girls lived up to the high standards of athleticism set in previous years.

Promoting girls’ basketball has always been a particular focus for Rose Charities and the basketball final was the main event of the day. The basketball teams train every Saturday and Sunday under the direction of the national coach of Sri Lanka. Basketball is popular in Sri Lanka but mainly in the cities because most villages have no basketball courts. Annamalai Girl’s Club won the championship in a hotly contested and thrilling final game. With characteristic understatement, the girls reported that they “felt happy” about the result. It was the first time that the team from Annamalai had won the championship. They hope, in future, to compete in district and provincial tournaments.

The Girls’ Clubs have been running for the past four years and provide a unique opportunity for the girls to train in sports and learn teamwork and leadership. Members of the club executive serve a one-year term which gives a large number of girls the chance to take a leadership role in organizing practices and events. The girls are also given instruction in personal finances and are encouraged to increase their savings with annual prizes being given to whoever saves the most money. The club also has its own small library from which the girls can borrow books. These aspects of the program are all in addition to the main draw, which is, obviously, the sports.

This meet is the only time during the year that the girls from all the Rose clubs get a chance to meet and compete against each other. It is a refreshing break for the girls from the pressures of school and, consequently, there was a festive atmosphere throughout the day. The prize giving ceremony at the close recognized the winning teams in each event with trophies and prizes and allowed the assembled supporters to celebrate the girls’ achievements.

Annual Sports Events of Rose Preschools – 2012

In the first half of March, the 16 Rose Preschools in Ampara and Batticaloa Districts marked the end of the first term by holding the Annual Sports Meet events separately. These meets are among the most eagerly anticipated dates in the academic calendar and this year parents and teachers outdid themselves in organizing exciting events to challenge and entertain the preschool children.

Over six hundred children participated in the different meets which varied greatly in size. Some were on a truly epic scale, like the sports meet held for the children of Annamalai and Chalambaikeny which involved 180 children, 9 teachers, and crowds of parents, community leaders, and official guests. Others, like the sports meet held on March 15th for the children of the 40th Colony, were more modest in size, involving the parents, teachers, and students of just one school. Regardless of the size of the meet, however, the active participation of parents and spirit of enthusiasm within the community ensured that every child had an unforgettable day.

The assembled parents cheered, laughed, and called out advice as their children competed in the various events. These ranged from zoologically-inspired competitions like the Duck Walk, Elephant Walk, and Rabbit Jump, to tests of coordination like the Lemon and Spoon Race (a local variant of the traditional Egg and Spoon), to speed test for such tasks as colour selection, veggie picking, and threading cocoanut leaves. The roles were reversed, however, when the time came for the parents’ events. The children looked on, a little bewildered, as their fathers and mothers competed in musical chairs, tug-of-war, and other amusing competitions.

The teams into which the children were divided for the competitions were named after Rose Charities’ Canadian board members as a gesture of appreciation for the tireless support work performed by the whole Rose Charities community. Each team also had its own small tent which the parents decorated and stocked with food and refreshments which they collectively provided. At the March 7th sports meet held at the Domino’s Early Childhood Education Centre, village dignitaries, local government officials, Rose staff, and other community guests were able to wander between ‘William House,’ ‘Josephine House,’ ‘Michael House’ and ‘Lawrence House,’ sampling the hospitality of the different parent groups. The next day, March 8th, the parents of preschoolers from Veeramunai and Veeracholai entertained guests at houses named for Charles, Gail, Erica, and Yoga, all of whom have contributed immensely to the development of Rose Sri Lanka over the years. Every member of Rose’s management staff who was able to attend was deeply touched by the generosity and appreciation shown by the parents and local communities.

At the end of each meet, every child was awarded a small trophy and certificate to recognize their participation and some took home gifts for winning specific events. Events like these are not merely day-long parties; they serve to encourage parents to get involved in their local schools, to set high expectations for their children and to support them in their studies. These sorts of outcomes not only help to ensure the sustainability of these schools but are very strong predictors for future academic achievement. Hopefully, for these children a day of fun can help lead to a lifetime of success.

Convocation Ceremony – Domino’s Early Childhood Education Centre – 2011 – part2

Students enjoy showing off their talents in many ways in front of a gigantic crowd who never stopped cheering. The Kinder Graduates received certificates, Medals and prizes for their achievement.
At the end all the students have said farewell to the crowd. Some students parted us with the intention of coming back to the preschool to finish off their early childhood education next year.

Convocation Ceremony 2011 – Domino’s Early Childhood Education Centre – part 1

10.12.2011, Saturday morning was the first of so many unforgettable events for about 60 Upper Kindergarten students. These students have celebrated their Preschool Graduation function from Early Childhood Education in Domino’s Early Childhood Education Centre, one of the Rose Preschools in Kalmunai.

Mr.N.Nagarajah, Principal Domino’s Early Childhood Education Centre has presided the event where Mr.P.Srikanth, Co-ordinator, Human Development Organization was the Chief Guest and Mr.Piyantha Liyanage, Assist. Superintendent of Police, Kaluwanchikudy was the Special Guest. Fro from Rose Charities Srilanka Mr.Anthony Richard, Chief Executive Officer, Mr.N.Parasuraman, Administration Officee, Mr.S.Rajeeshan, Programme Co-ordinator, Mr.N.Raveendran, Mr.M.Somasegaram, Mr.K.Thayanandamoorthy and the Board of Directors have participated in the ceremony.

Secondary Enrichment and University Entrance Program – 2011

Fundamentals:

The Sri Lankan Ordinary Level (O-level) and Advanced Level (A-level) are General Certificate of Education (GCE) qualifications conducted by the Department of Examinations which is based on the British GCE qualifications. An O-level is a qualification of its own right, but more often taken in prerequisite for the more in-depth and academically rigorous Advanced Level exams the qualification by which is used as an entrance for Sri Lankan state universities.

In recent years the exam has become extremely competitive and even traumatic for most high school students in Sri Lanka, since only top 11% of students who pass this exam are selected to the state universities by the government agency tasked with university admission, the University Grants Commission. Admission at undergraduate level to these public universities is based solely on the results of the G.C.E. (A/L) Examination and the Z-score, which considers the difficulty level of the subjects. Due to restricted facilities admissions have become extremely competitive.

RCSL’s Involvement:
GCE O-level Enrichment;

The annual Education Enrichment program implemented by Rose Charities Srilanka has been inaugurated on the 6th of June 2011. Classes for the students who are going to sit for the GCE O-level Examination in December 2011 were conducted. Science, English, Math, Tamil and History had been the subjects in focus. There were about 461 students from 9 schools in Ampara and Batticaloa districts were the beneficiaries of this year’s program. 45 Teachers have been engaged for conducting the classes in 7centers. 8 field staffs and a team of project staffs have been involved for the effective implementation of the program. Program came to an end in October 2011 with a grand Seminar series in subjects such as Mathematics and Science.

Grand Seminar Series:

A team of experienced teachers with the aid of multimedia and using animation techniques conducted a series of Mathematics and Science seminars 6 to be exact for a grand total of about 500 students from 13 schools. More than 15 teachers were involved in these seminars.

GCE A-level Enrichment or University Entrance Program;

Classes for the students who re-sat the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) Examination in August 2011 in the Arts stream were conducted. The classes were started in February and came to completion in July. Political Science, Hindu Culture, Logic and Scientific Methods, Tamil and Drama & Theater were the subjects in focus. There were about 40 students from Kalmunai, Natpiddimunai, Navithanveli, Karaitivu Veeramunai and Mandur areas of Ampara and Batticaloa districts benefited from this year’s program. 5 Teachers were been engaged for conducting the classes in Education Development Society, Kalmunai. A team of project staffs have been involved for the effective implementation of the program.

As part of the Enrichment Classes review classes were held by the teachers and model exam papers in each subject were given to the students which will be then discussed.

Primary Enrichment Program – 2011

Fundamentals:

The Scholarship Examination aka – the Grade 5 Scholarship exam is a highly competitive Sri Lankan examination conducted by the Department of Examinations of the Ministry of Education. It is optional for students to undertake it during the final year of primary school (Grade 5, usually ages 9-10). Based on the results of the exam, students could transfer to prominent national schools. This Exam is a means for gifted students from villages to move to better schools with government scholarships. Annually based on demand for individual schools, cut-off marks are set by the Ministry of Education.

In recent years the exam has become extremely competitive. Every parent likes to enroll their child to a popular good school in major cities. If they fail in the first round to enter their child to Grade 1, then their next goal would be to get a good school by preparing their child to obtain a high mark in Grade 5 Scholarship examination. In this Examination, students get direct raw mark, unlike other examinations. Therefore this may be the hardest exam in Sri Lankan school system, considering the age of the candidates.

Involvement:
Rose Charities Srilanka, under its Primary Enrichment Program has intended to improve; the access of low-income children to primary education, the quality of primary education through teacher training workshops and Integrate school drop-outs back into school.
RCSL helps students who are from areas of poor income generation and do not have the resources and access to gain practicable knowledge to prepare them for exam by conducting Enrichment classes after schools.
RCSL is not only focusing the Grade 5 students but also preparing grade 4 students in advance to sit for the Scholarship Exam in the year after.
Through these Enrichment Classes skills have been improved for primary teachers.
Re-integrate school drop-outs with expenses, such as school uniforms and books back into school.
In 2011:
RCSL has implemented the Primary Enrichment Program in 14 schools in the area with a total of 410 students in grade 5 and 11 schools with 314 students in grade 4.
In Detail:

  1. Kalaimagal Vidyalayam, Vellavely (Grade 4 Enrichment Classes)
  2. Kanapathipuram Vidyalayam, Malwatta (Grade 4 Enrichment Classes)
  3. Holy Cross Vidyalayam, SoriKalmunai (Grade 4 Enrichment Classes)
  4. Kalaimagal Vidyalayam, Veppayadi (Grade 4 & 5 Enrichment Classes)
  5. Kannagi Hindu Vidyalayam, Karaitivu (Grade 4 & 5 Enrichment Classes)
  6. Saraswathy Vidyalayam, Neelawanai (Grade 4 & 5 Enrichment Classes)
  7. Maha Vishnu Vidyalayam, Pandiruppu (Grade 4 & 5 Enrichment Classes)
  8. Vipulananda Maha Vidyalayam, Malwatta (Grade 4 & 5 Enrichment Classes)
  9. G.T.M. School, Puthunagar (Grade 4 & 5 Enrichment Classes)
  10. Pulavarmani Sherifudin Vidyalayam, Maruthamunai (Grade4&5Enrichment Classes)
  11. Al/Maslam Vidyalayam, Nintavur (Grade 4 & 5 Enrichment Classes)
  12. Sri Sakthi Vidyalayam, Navithanvely (Grade 5 Enrichment Classes)
  13. Annamalai Maha Vidyalayam, Navithanvely (Grade 5 Enrichment Classes)
  14. Vinayagar Vidyalayam, Addappalam (Grade 5 Enrichment Classes)
  15. Gazzaly Muslim Vidyalayam, Sammanthurai (Grade 5 Enrichment Classes)
  16. RKM Girls School, Karaitivu (Grade 5 Enrichment Classes)
  17. Al/Ashraf Maha Vidyalayam, Mavadipalli (Grade 5 Enrichment Classes)

Extent:

Due to the unexpected heavy rain and flooding in the district in the beginning of the year, the commencing of the program had to be postponed. The Primary enrichment classes for grade 5 students started in February and came to completion in June, 2011. The Grade 5 students who underwent the enrichment classes have sat for the Government Exams in the later part of August, 2011. The result of this exam was released in October, 2011 which shows the actual outcome of the program.

The 2nd phase of the Primary Enrichment Program for Grade 4 students has been started in July and ended in November, 2011.

Classes:

Daily enrichment classes in subjects such as Tamil, Mathematics, English, Environment and Singhala were held by teachers who have been trained in primary education. The classes were conducted after the regular school hours. Along with review of model questions, examinations and evaluations of the student’s progress were maintained by the teachers. RCSL’s Community Support Workers visit centers and issue teaching materials and stationery required.

Grand finale:

As a part of the conclusion of this enrichment classes some of the students who were unable to afford for educational materials were issued with past paper books. This has been done with the association of Dr.A.Jogarajah of Loyal Publications, Colombo. Book containing exam papers of past 10 years and model questions were issued to a number of students, who will sit for the Exams in August, 2011.

Achievement:

Analysis based on a set of indicators shows, through the Primary Enrichment Program the followings were achieved in 2011.

Improved primary school students’ ability to write exams
Increased the confidence level of students and reduce anxiety over Exams
Increased scores on Grade 5 Scholarship Exams
Increase in pass rate of students sitting for the Government Exams
Improvement in Grade 5 Scholarship Exam results in the area
Increase the amount of government scholarships awarded to students

Felicitation:

A ceremony has been organized to mark the achievements of the students involved in primary enrichment classes and passed the Scholarship Examination in 2011. These students of various schools have been felicitated by RCSL. Students were given certificates of recognition and medals of honour during this function.