Education for the future.
With the financial aid of Gazprom-Germania, the "Education Development Centre" (EDC) in Aluthgama, Sri Lanka, could be built and equipped.
I The goals:
Environmental problems result of the ignorance, but also of the bad financial situation of the bigger part of the Sri Lankan population. In order to solve the economic problems in harmony with the environmental requirements and in order to create alternatives for poor familis to earn their living, the educational centre aims at two main goals:
1) The overcoming of financial grievance:
Local children and teenagers can participate in free courses in English and computer skills (length: six months) in the EDC. If they complete the course successfully, the pupils will receive an official certificate attesting their effort.
Women can learn different handicraft skills in the EDC in order to be able to earn money for themselves and their families.
2) Environmental protection by environmental education:
The education centre is the initial point of a considerable programme of environmental education. This programme shall strengthen the ecological awareness of the Sri Lankan population and thereby form a base for a sustainable and successfull environmental protection. In the beginning, lectures, films, workshops and other events will sensitise the population to the environmental topic.
Alongside the members of the NCS and the volunteers, experts and members of other organizations are integrated in the projects. New projects concerning environmental protection, as the usage of renewable resources or the alternative generation of energy, and approaches for big environmental problems in Sri Lanka, as the lack of an efficient waste management or the water pollution, are planned for the years to come.
II The Education Centre:
The education centre EDC is situated in Aluthgama, a small town in Sri Lanka's southwest - about 70 km south of the capital Colombo and 40 km north of the city Galle on the southern tip of the island. -> see map
If you come from Colombo, you pass the town of Beruwala. Before you enter Aluthgama, you pass a bridge, after which you turn from the main road (Galle Road) to the inland road. This is also the road to a very old temple with one of the biggest standing Buddha statues in Sri Lanka. You cross the railway tracks and turn after about 100 m (behind a cemetery on the right-hand side) to the right. After 50 m, you turn left again into a small road which directly leads to the building. The route is also marked by signs saying "EDC". -> see route in detail
The building ensures efficient and well-prepared education and is at the same time the home and a place for intercultural encounters of the local and foreign personnel, helpers and guests.
The class rooms and the working space is located on the ground floor. There is the lobby, the office, a computer cabinet, a library, a big class room and a lecture room as well as the toilets for the children. On first floor, there is enough space for relaxing in the spare time. You can find a living room as well as the kitchen, the dining room, the common room, a bathroom and five double bedrooms for the volunteers as well as for guests. An add-on is the spacious balcony which provides a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape.
With its bright and shiny colours, wide windows and the luscious green of the nature (e.g. the coconut palms and banana trees), far away from the noise of the city, this is an ideal place for learning and relaxing.
III The people:
The pupils of the Education Centre come from within a radius of about 10 km around Aluthgama. Their families were affected by the Tsunami catastrophe and they earn only little money. The courses for their children are free of charge and offer a possibility to improve the education they get at school.
In general, the EDC tries to teach about 50 children per semester and to help them to achieve the official certificate. For the computer classes, mainly older children are selected (age 12 to 21 years), because they are close to starting into the professional life, where they can use their newly learned skills immediately. The English classes do not have an age-restriction. At the end of each teaching period (semester) there is a small final ceremony in the EDC, to which the children contribute small theater plays and dances to say "thank you" to the teachers. During this ceremony, the pupils also receive the certificate which attests their effort.
The Education Centre EDC has two directors which work on a honorary base, Mr. Chandralal Premakumara M.G. with his wife Andrea Launhardt (first picture, on the left) and his representative Neil (second picture, on the left). The team of teachers consists at the moment of three local teachers - Mr. Buddhika Jayasignge, Mr. Mangala and Ms. Kanichi (pictures 3 to 5). A honorary teacher from Aluthgama, Mr. Benny Fernando (picture on the right) supports this team once per week. Besides, the local and foreign volunteers are assisting the staff.