Sri Lanka

Update from Minhath Montessori Preschool

April 15, 2010

Michael Lear, Director International Relations

The small town of Dickwella in the South of Sri Lanka is a predominately Sinhalese community. Only 5% of the community is comprised of Tamil-speaking Muslims. Of the 63 preschools in the area, only one, The Minhath Montessori preschool, caters specifically to the 630 families of the Tamil community. Classes are taught in the native language and children receive instruction in Arabic so they can read the Koran.

The preschool classes, which are based on the Montessori Education Model, include academics, art classes, performance events and sports activities. Twenty children, 10 boys and 10 girls, ages 4-5 years old, completed the 2009 school year.

Presently, there are 19 children enrolled, 10 boys and 9 girls ages 4-5 years old enrolled for 2010.

Academic Studies:

  • Reading the Holy Koran teaches the children the language of Arabic.
  • Most other activities are conducted in both English and Tamil to further broaden the student’s language base.
  • Our new Sinhalese Teacher Mrs. Anushika provides lessons in basic Sinhalese.
  • Under a directive from the Southern Regional Education Department, we monitor each child’s progress monthly in categories of physical development, creativity and communication. At the end of each school year we provide award certificates to the children for their accomplishments.

In the afternoons, the Minhath School utilizes its space to provide special group classes for older children to study mathematics, science and information technology and business courses to help them prepare for their national exams.

In 2010, in addition to the regular school programming, the Minhath school will be constructing a playground for the preschool children and offering career counseling programs for the older students attending the afternoon group study classes. The village has also requested for Minhath to provide adult English classes.

Despite the school’s success, it still faces challenges. Over the past three years it has become the default community center for the Tamils and home for many of their activities. Unfortunately, it does not have the capacity to comfortably hold events and funding for its expansion is required to meet the growing needs of the community.

The Minhath Preschool Year End Concert December 12, 2009

At the close of each year, the students participate in a year-end concert to celebrate their opportunity to learn and to display their talents. Last year’s concert in 2009 was no exception. Performing with great enthusiasm, and in three languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English, the children showcased their singing and play-acting skills.

On December 20, 2009 the children also had the chance to participate Real Medicine Foundation’s first “CHRISTMAS GET-TOGETHER”. RMF Advisory Board Member, Mrs. Upamali, who lives in Los Angeles, sponsored the program.

Country Page: Sri Lanka Initiative Page: Minhath Montessori Preschool