Sri Lanka

Palathuduwa Preschool End of Year Report

February 2, 2011

Mahendra Andrahennadige, Stephney Minerva Fernando and Michael Matheke-Fischer

Palathuduwa Preschool – Children’s Fair and Market

On July 30th, 2010, the Palathuduwa Preschool conducted its first “Kids Fair” in many years. With contributions from the teachers, parents and villagers from the surrounding community, the fair featured a market where children could sell organic produce. Children from the school dressed as local salesmen from the market, ran stalls selling fruits and vegetables from their gardens, and practiced basic arithmetic (with a little help from their parents) by counting money and change. All of the produce was grown completely organically, integrating a valuable environmental lesson into the activity.
 


These Kids Fairs are part of an ongoing effort to teach the students their place and role in an interconnected community. By engaging their neighbors in a fun and educational activity, the students were encouraged to further interact with other community members outside of their family, as well as earn a small income from gardening efforts. Januga, one of the students, demonstrated his conflicting emotions and skills as both a gardener and salesman, tearfully requesting the return of his produce from customers who had purchased them.

Overall School Support Program

Objectives:

  • Work with guardians and caretakers to assist in proper caretaking of the children;
  • Educate children in the area to ensure health awareness and proper sanitation;
  • Provide the children with nutritious meals;
  • Educate children about their environment, integrating eco-awareness and outdoor activities into their routines;
  • Educate them about natural disasters and environmental pollution, including small skills they can utilize to help preserve their surroundings;
  • Diversity education about cultural and ethnic diversity in their community, including exercises aimed at increasing tolerance and understanding of differences;
  • Give lessons to children about modern communication technologies, including the use of mobile phones;
  • Continue Basic English knowledge education in a practical setting. 


Achievements:

  • Kids Fair.
  • Awareness raising program educating children and their families about general service providers in the community.
  • Six mothers found new jobs at farms in the vicinity of the school in order to guarantee continued attendance and increase income.
  • Extra activities conducted by the school provided the children an opportunity to learn more about their place in the community and helped them with activities geared towards community participation.
  • Attendance has increased at the school, allowing our program to not only educate the children but also regularly monitor their well being, increasing their general health.
  • RMF support of teachers has improved their status in the community and provided them with a stable livelihood.


Getting to Know Community Services:


In addition to the fair, the children were taken on a tour of basic services around Palathuduwa so teachers could familiarize them with the workings of the community. Students visited the post office, hospital, police station, fishing harbor, and central bus station. While taking tours of the facilities, workers explained to the children how basic government services, such as mailing letters, are important and how, in the future, they can use these services. 
 

Meeting with doctors and policemen in a casual setting was important for the children, as it taught them that police are not always associated with crime and punishment and doctors are not only the givers of painful injections. By interacting with them, the children learned how policemen and doctors are there to help, and what role they play in the community. Casual meetings such as these are the first small step towards making the students feel more at home in their community. 
 

The students and families are also sad to see the departure of Anusha, one of the pre-school’s teachers. When she first joined the faculty, Anusha had very little in the way of experience or formal qualifications, however, she had a limitless background of enthusiasm. Taking into account her family’s financial situation, RMF decided to support her by hiring her for the school. She now takes her experience and skills to a school in her home village, sharing her experience with other children in a new community. 
 

RMF is also proud to welcome as Anusha’s replacement, Ms. Kalayain Ubesingha, who brings 14 years of pre-school education experience from Tangalle.

Country Page: Sri Lanka Initiative Page: Palathuduwa Preschool Support