English for Village Program – Sri Lanka

The “English for Village” concept was proposed by Dr. P.A. Kiriwandeniya, chairman of SANASA University Campus, Kegalle, with the intention of sharing English communication knowledge from undergraduate students to the rural community as a voluntary service. This was supported by the GFF Sri Lanka team, who saw it as a valuable opportunity for village children to learn English skills while also helping to develop the leadership skills of undergraduate students.

The primary focus of this initiative is to improve the English language and communication skills of the rural youth using an activity-based learning approach. These learning activities reflect everyday scenarios in a stress free and open outdoor environment. Currently, classes are conducted in the Ekiriyagala SANASA Primary Society hall and consist of 99 registered village students. The program is comprised of two groups, the first for new students and the second for students who have completed and received a Stage 1 English Certificate.

A group of children playing English language games

All the learning sessions are centered around interactive activities such as language games, songs and plays. This interactive method helps oral fluency and increase self-confidence, whilst ensuring the sessions remain enjoyable, evident as the activities brought smiles and laughter to the village children while their English skills developed. Having fun while learning is very important to children’s mental and emotional development. The children are not only ones who have benefited from this program. The group leaders themselves have built stronger leadership skills, improved their communication skills and made new friends through the English for Village Program.

The enjoyment of the children alone during our sessions was a sign of the success of the program. Parents have also given positive feedback and there has been a 60% increase in the student population, from 40 to 99 students in 2019, which further indicates the success of this program.

End Program of “English for Village”

A graduation ceremony was held on the 3rd of November 2019 at SANASA Campus, to celebrate the great progress the students have made with their English skills. During the morning session, the English Language Activity Camp and 66 village students were categorised into three teams, with a relevant team symbol and trainer. Each team had a set of activities to complete and these were rotated between the groups, with the help of the trainers. Mini exhibitions, and individual presentations were held in the evening session at Uththamawi Hall, SANASA Campus.

Celebrations at the graduation ceremony

To conclude, a concert was held, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. One parent from the audience spoke as a representative of all the village children’s parents.  She extended her gratitude to the Chairman of SANASA Campus, Ms Priyanka Kumarasinghe, Ekiriyagala SANASA Primary Society, the trainers and Ms Pavithra Gunasekara for conducting such a wonderful event for them and for the English program. Finally, she made a request to expand this program to cater for the wider community. In addition, a suggestion was made by parents to conduct classes for the themselves so they can practice with their children at home.

In 2020, GFF HELPS Sri Lanka hopes to bring more projects such as the English Village Program that will bring joyful learning to village children and cultivate skills of young University students. Helping the future of our world develop and learn new skills is not only a way to escape the realities of life, but also empowers them to create better future for themselves.

 By Ms Pavithra Gunasekara – GFF Representative Sri Lanka

Joe FisherEnglish for Village Program – Sri Lanka