Pre-school teachers in Sri Lanka are learning how to teach better

Report
from People in Need
Published on 06 Jun 2007
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, June 6, 2007 - Children in pre-schools are to benefit from their teachers' improved teaching skills. The Czech humanitarian and development agency, People In Need (PIN), has finished pilot training for pre-school teachers and has also published the Pre-School Teacher Training Manual, which will be used throughout the whole district. PIN, represented by Head of Mission Mr. Matej Novak and accompanied by the Secretary for the Eastern Province Ministry of Education, Mr. R. Thialankama, presented diplomas to the first group of fifteen teachers, who completed the three-month pilot training course. The new manual was tested during this period.

The idea of training pre-school teachers arose at the beginning of 2006, when People in Need handed over six newly-built pre-schools to replace those destroyed by the Tsunami in December of 2004. "At that time we discovered that many communities were lacking basic knowledge about preschool education and methods. Though pre-schools are administered by the Ministry of Education they lack the money for salaries and basic teacher training, as well as essential teaching materials and facilities. Children's mothers are voluntary teachers in many pre-schools," said Matej Novak, Head of Mission of PIN. "And of course very often they don't know what to do with such a big group of children, so they tend to keep them inside and teach them reading and writing, rather than working on play and personal development that is more appropriate for that age group," add Matej Novak.

The first three-month training course was prepared in cooperation with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education. Theoretical classes were rotated with practical application in pre-schools; teachers fulfilled approximately 270 hours of classes and practical work. "The pilot training course is very important, not just for graduates of it but also for the ongoing development of the pre-school sector in Sri Lanka. The methods used and tested-out during the training course are then included in the manual, which will be used by the Ministry of Education for teaching pre-school teachers," explained the project coordinator, Mrs. Prathajani.

The teachers were very pleased with the training course. "I am very happy that we met with PIN. At the beginning they helped us with the construction of the new building and all facilities such as water and furniture. Then they continued working with us with this type of training. I have been managing my pre-school "Sunrise" for more than fifteen years, but it is very useful to see how new and different teaching methods are easy and effective. This type of training is very unique here in Trinco," said one of those who had completed the course. "In this ceremony, there will be a short exhibit by the teachers and the children, who would like to show you what we learned during the training," she said.

PIN has been working in Sri Lanka since January 2005 to assist people affected by the Tsunami in the Trincomalee district. In addition to reconstruction projects and renovation of the damaged coast, PIN is focusing on the education sector. For example, a wide range of vocational training is being provided, from plumbing and sewing skills to management and urban planning. Other projects support school activities through small grants or the implementation of modern English teaching methods in the Sri Lankan education system. All of these activities are funded from the public collection "SOS Sri Lanka", held in the Czech Republic from 27 December 2004.

Author: Veronika Dvorackova