Archive for April, 2009

Education in an open environment

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Balangoda Damahana Maha Vidyalaya is rather a school faced with many obstacles within the Balangoda education zone of the Ratnapura district. Amidst many difficulties a very high standard of education is maintained by the school resulting in excellent results being obtained in many spheres. In addition to that, the school has made great gains in the area of extra curricular activities. Of the many awards and accolades received, the most significant is the National Productive award received in 2008. The year 2008 is important for yet another reason. Sureka Dulanjalee representing the school at athletics obtained 1st place running the 200m, and the 2nd place at the 100m, at the National Athletic Championships. These are just a few examples of achievements at national level.

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The school has done much to create a child-friendly environment to enable students to gain the maximum of their study time. As a consequence the school was selected for the school with the best environment in the Ratnapura district of the Sabaragamuwa province. This is yet another achievement. To achieve these victories various projects and suggestions were activated by the school authorities.

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A vital feature of education is an environment suited for purpose. With this concept in view, the school has put in place an open-air education centre where the children are encouraged move out of the traditional classroom setting and in to a more free and relaxed setting that mixes and blends with nature. This approach has gained popularity and the children seem to take to this new venture like ducks to water.

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A courageous mother from Damahana

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Vinitha is from Damahana. She is a mother of four and a grandmother of one toddler. Two girls of schooling age, and daughter with child live with Vinitha. The husband of the young married daughter is in jail. The husband is an alcoholic with no regular income. The two girls at school are bright and studious. They have received many awards for good performances at school.
In desperation Vinitha went looking for work and eventually ended up at the farm where she worked for six months and got trained in the process. With the money earned she was able to up keep the family and care for her married daughter as well.

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But the work was not easy. Feeding the birds, collecting greens, and tending the garden was all hard work. But the greatest challenge was the mixing of feed. Lifting 50kg bags of raw materials and mixing large quantities of feed each day was strenuous, yet she did it for the sake of the children and grandchild.
In the meantime, her only son, in his early twenties and married, joined the Army. With support from him and the married daughter’s in-laws, Vinitha decided to set up her own pen for broilers. Her husband also pledged support.

vinitha2Today, six months after working on the farm, Vinitha had the skill and confidence to launch on her own. With the encouragement received she and her family today run their own little broiler project.
For now they buy their feed from Balangoda sold at an exorbitant price. It is expected that with the introduction of machinery for feed mixing that Vinitha will purchase her feed from the project. This will reduce her costs by a considerable amount. There are many more farmers like Vinitha and other potential farmers, some temporarily given up but hoping the project will be able to provide them feed at an affordable rate for them to build and develop their own farms.

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