Education at every level is highly valued in Sri Lanka. After the tsunami, and then the civil conflict, children lost many months of schooling and faced failure in their exams. The stress of living in a camp, the loss of parents and friends, family poverty and the terror of the conflict – all contributed to the huge disruption in education. Rose Charities Sri Lanka has worked closely with the local communities and schools to help the most vulnerable children receive specialized enriched education programs.
Rose Charities Sri Lanka has opened fourteen preschools to provide free early childhood education for children of young mothers. Rose’s preschool’s cater to vulnerable children in low-income families and isolated villages. All fourteen preschools encourage ‘joyful learning’, which consists of behavioral development through an engaging, active curriculum for children. Rose maintains a balance between academic and extra-curricular opportunities, providing students with multimedia, musical instruments, sports equipment as well as arts and crafts. Cultural and peace-building events exhibit activities such as marching band and dance performances, encouraging multi-cultural understanding and unity. Pre-school teachers are trained by international educators, maintaining a high standard of learning for the 350 children who attend Rose pre-schools in their communities.
One of our first and most successful programs has been to provide after-school programs in 5 subjects to youth to supplement the school work and help them succeed in class. In 2006 there were 176 students taking part in the program. This has now grown to 400.
Mother & Child Program: started in March 2010
In 2006 Rose Charities began a program of extra instruction for Kalmunai high-school students to help them catch up education lost during the disruption caused by the tsunami. Local teachers, school principles and parents came together with Rose Charities to develop the program in an extraordinary community effort. Rose Charities arranged meetings and it was decided that five schools would open their classrooms at night. 96 local teachers volunteered their time so that every graduating high school student would have extra instruction for 4 months leading up to GCE O and A level exams. This was
a huge task involving nearly 1000 students. The community achieved this with a tiny budget and few outside resources. When the results came back there was an average pass rate of 73%. That year ( 2006) 29 students passed the University entrance exam, none had passed in 2005.
The schools are now re-established and extra instruction classes are now conducted for approx 200 children per year from under-privileged villages and families. These free classes are held every year for 4 to 6 months to help focus young minds and to prepare students. The classes include “mock GCE exams” to prepare the students for the real examinations. These classes were very successful and between 85 to 90% of students, who apply, qualified for higher studies and university entrance.
School Drop-outs Program
Working closely with schools and communities Rose Charities has developed a program to find school drop-outs and get them back in school. In Kalmunai the greatest reason for school drop-outs is poverty, often caused by the loss of one or both parents. Stress, related to life in the post-tsunami camps and the civil war is also a major factor, as is being ‘at risk’ in some way. In 2008 79 children were identified and assisted to return to school. Community Support Workers counsel the families and provide the necessary support to get the children back to school. Parents of school drop-outs are eligible for
loans (see ‘micro-credit’ ). This helps ensure the family has sufficient income to allow the children to return to school and continue their education.
Kid 2 Kid Program: Currently 4 children are sponsored. There are 31 on the waiting list.
University education is free in Sri Lanka, however many students are unable to accept their university places because they lack the funds to pay for books and accommodation. The Rose Charities University Scholarship program provides grants totaling approx 60,000 SLR ($560 Canadian dollars) per year to students from low-income families, especially those affected by the tsunami or civil war. In 2009 there are 3 graduates and 42 on-going scholarships studying medicine, dentistry, engineering, computer science, management, law and the arts. Students are funded by individual sponsors from the