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Sunday, 11 January 2009

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Smiles of hope

by Nilma DOLE

Roshan, a Grade 4 student of the Debarawewa Primary Navodaya Vidyalaya, wears a smile most of the time on his face. The reason for this is that his school has just completed building a new wing that now has a state-of-the-art computer laboratory.

Happy Grade 4 student Roshan of the
Debarawewa Primary Navodaya Vidyalaya

“I can play computer games with my classmates and study on comfortable desks and chairs”, he smiled. Head Prefect of the school, Buddhini said, “We used to find it difficult to concentrate in our former classrooms because they weren’t ventilated properly and when it rains, we had to endure lessons in the blistering cold since the drainage system wasn’t good”.

She said that Grade 6 students had to put up with a classroom that was on the verge of falling down.

Mrs. Kumudini, a Grade 5 teacher, whose student went on to win the first place medal in the island for Tamil at the Year 5 scholarship, said “We have potential students for whom education is a vital necessity to uplift their livelihood”.

The Debarawewa Primary Navodaya Vidyalaya has a reputation for producing some of the best students in the island because in the year 2007, 137 of 420 students, who sat the exam, obtained scholarships with an impressive rate of 32% where 75% of the students obtained more than 100 marks.

Computer laboratory in the new building of the Debarawewa Primary Navodaya Vidyalaya

SriLankan Airlines, together with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), lent a helping hand to the students of the Debarawewa Primary Navodaya Vidyalaya by giving them a better educational environment since the school had classes only up to Year 8.

Construction started on July 23, 2008 and today, the school has an eight-classroom building to house Year 9, of 4,500 square feet with furniture, and a computer lab at a cost of Rs. 12.4 million.

The next two phases of their charity project will construct a second and third building of similar size with eight classrooms together with furniture for Year 10 and Year 11 with a separate building to house a fully equipped library by 2010.

At the moment, the school also has a separate wing for students with disabilities and a special hearing aid unit.

Principal of the Debarawewa Primary School, W. K. Dharmadasa said, “More than 30 students pass their Year 5 scholarship every year and our student who won first place in year 2000 for the scholarship is now studying at Dharmaraja College, Kandy”.

SriLankan has already launched a Rs. 51 million project to construct another two new buildings at Debarawewa Primary Navodaya Vidyalaya after the success of the first one. The national airline also reconstructed a tsunami-affected school of 1,500 students at Kalmunai called the Al Bahriya Maha Vidyalaya at a sum of Rs. 81 million in 2006. They have also supported the Meepagama Maha Vidyalaya at Kalawana in the Ratnapura District from 2003.

From L to R: Project Director of GTZ Dr.U. Metzger, his wife, CEO of SriLankan Airlines Manoj Gunawardena and Principal of the Debarawewa Primary School, W. K. Dharmadasa.

The Education for Social Cohesion Program of the GTZ which is working with the Education Ministry agreed to provide 4,500,000 for the project that equipped the computer laboratory.

Project Director of GTZ, Dr. U. Metzger said that students at the school are very talented and have bright career prospects and the GTZ is strongly committed to helping them every step of the way. Manoj Gunawardena, CEO of SriLankan said “Our Sri Lankan airlines trustees and our employee unions have joined hands to make this a reality for the children of Deberawewa”.

He said that choosing this school was important because more than 3,000 students attend the school, from places as far as Kataragama, Hambantota and Tanamalwila.

“It is not what we do for ourselves that matter but what we do for others that really count. So, with SriLankan Cares, our CSR arm, we hope that by taking this charity project forward, the children of Debarawewa have a better tomorrow”.

Pix by Lanka Probodini

 

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