AEF Join Hands with Deakin University to Empower Rural Schools and Communities

The Aspirations Education Foundation (AEF) has partnered with Deakin University together with Arts Building Children’s Dreams (ABCD) in Australia to support the development of over 20 schools in Ampara District. In order to make this a reality a team of Deakin University representatives including 18 Deakin University students and staff visited Ampara Project schools from 22nd June – 3rd of July in collaboration with the Aspirations Education Foundation.

The “Ampara Project” visiting group was organized by Carl Jones, International Manager as a part of Deakin University’s Global Citizenship Program The students represented faculties such as Commerce, Nursing, Information Systems, Law, Health Science, Physiological Science, Environmental Science, Animal Science, and International Studies. Staff members from Deakin University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment also participated in this visit to contribute to the Ampara Project, who will later collaborate with the Department of Architecture of The University of Katubedda. . Apart from the Deakin students, students from other Deakin partner organizations in Colombo also participated.

The package of assistance primarily support Aspirations Education Foundation in the fields of English Education through IT, Sports Development, Agriculture, Water and Infrastructure, and Community Based Organization (CBO) development.

The team visited B/Kandegama Maha Vidyalaya, Ridimaliyadda in Badulla district and schools in Ampara district namely, Polwatta Maha Vidyalaya, Sirisanda Primary Vidyalaya, Kotawehera Maha Vidyalaya, Wavinna Maha Vidyalaya, Aluth Ela Maha Vidyalaya, and Kiwlegama Maha Vidyalaya. The team was involved in the following projects during their visit.

1. As a part of Sports Development Strategy, an inter school under 17 girls and boys volleyball tournament was conducted.32 teams from 16 schools took part in this one day tournament. The trophies and cash prizes were awarded to winning teams and to the runners up teams. All participating schools were donated with a volleyball and a net as a part of donation of sports equipments. Apart from this tournament, the sports group of the students conducted two volleyball clinics at Polwatta Maha Vidyalaya and Wavinna Maha Vidyalaya. At these clinics, the overall aspects of the “game of the volleyball” was brainstormed and discussed. The Aspirations Education Foundation organized this event together with Zonal Director of Ampara.

2. Another important project implemented by Aspirations Education Foundation was providing child play equipments to Am/Kiwlegama Maha Vidyalaya and Kotawehera Maha Vidyalaya. The children of Kiwlegama Maha Vidyalaya did not have necessary child play equipments such as pyramid, seesaw and swings. These equipments were donated to the school. The situation of Kotawehera Maha Vidyalaya was so bad that the all equipments had gone decayed. Those equipments were repaired by the funds allocated for this purpose by Deakin and new equipments such as swings and seesaw were donated. The group also conducted two “shramadana” campaigns at Am/Aluth Ela Vidyalaya and Am/Sirisanda Vidyalaya to repair and paint all the child play equipments which were dilapidated.

3. Teaching English language through computer tablets was another project introduced during this visit. 21 tablets were donated for this purpose and equipped them with internet access. These tablets were to be used in remote schools in Ampara where there is no much facility for English education. Teachers were trained at Sirisanda Vidyalaya, Polwatta Maha Vidyalaya and Wavinna Maha Vidyalaya for this purpose. Two levels of English lessons are designed targeted for junior and senior students. These English classes are conducted with the integration of the present school curriculum.

 4. Making handicraft out of bamboo weaving is another project Implemented by Aspirations Education Foundation. The School of Architecture and Built Environment of the Deakin University showed special interest in this regard. AEF introduced a bamboo weaving training program for Community Based Organization in Polwaga Janapadaya, Inginyagala. 24 women participated in the 1st day of the training program. This training program will continue for another one month and the training is conducted by a trainer from National Craft Council.

     The School of Architecture and Built Environment of the Deakin University showed interest in making a “Green School” using bamboo trees. All the construction materials of the building are none other than bamboo trees and its products. This concept is very popular in countries such as Indonesia. This concept was discussed at the B/Kandegama Vidyalaya and it was agreed to continue the discussion and find the ways and means to construct a bamboo based building. Aspiration Education Foundation will oversee the implementation of this project.

5. Water and Sanitation was another project implemented by Aspirations Education Foundation. The funds were released to renovate toilets which were dilapidated beyond use at Am/Aluth Ella Vidyalaya. This has been a felt need of the school for many years. Now, more than 50 primary school children are able to use toilets without any difficulty. We also took this opportunity to declare open another toilet for female students constructed with the support of Study Group in Australia.

6. The Aspirations Education Foundation has taken a great deal of efforts to support schools to develop agriculture as an income generation activity. In this regard, the AEF paid special attention to the development of special variety of mango cultivation to raise funds for school development. Providing permanent water sources for agriculture, Marketing, Sustainability, Community participation, and the use of Organic fertilizers are some areas that AEF has special interest in supporting the schools. The visiting Deakin team showed interest in the constructions of rainwater systems at school level. Rainwater harvesting can solve many problems associated with water scarcity, especially in the areas of drinking water scarcity, lack of water for sanitation purposes and for agricultural use.

Pineapple cultivation as an Income Generation activity at B/Kandegama Maha Vidyalaya, Ridimaliyadda

The donation of a weeding machine to AM/ Senagama Maha Vidyalaya, Ampara