The Aspirations Education Foundation 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 Deakin University staff visited Ampara Project schools from 22nd June – 3rd of July in collaboration with the Aspirations Education Foundation.
The “Ampara Project” visit was organized by Carl Jones, International Manager of the Deakin University as a part of Deakin University’s Global Citizenship Program. The Deakin students came from a range of disciplines representing 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 from the Deakin University will 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.
- As a part of Sports Development Strategy, an interschool under 17 girls and boys volleyball tournament was organized by the sports division of Zonal Director of Education office, Ampara.
32 teams from 26 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. All the cost related to this tournament and the donation of volleyball equipments were donated by the Deakin University.
- Another important project assisted by the Deakin University 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.
- Teaching English language through computer tablets was another project introduced by the Deakin University. They donated 21 tablets 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 e 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.
- Making handicraft out of bamboo weaving is another project supported by the Deakin University. The School of Architecture and Built Environment of the same University showed special interest in this regard. We 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 Deakin University would assist in marketing of the products to get a higher price for the women weavers.
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. Architectural department of Deakin University would work with the University of Katubedda for this purpose.
- Water and Sanitation was another project supported by the Deakin group. They provided funds to renovate toilets which were in the state of dilapidated and 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.
- The Deakin University also took a great deal of interest in supporting agriculture. In this regard, the university paid special attention to the development of mango cultivation as a means of income generation to raise fund for school development. Providing permanent water sources for agriculture, marketing, sustainability, community participation, and the use of organic fertilizers are some areas that Deakin University has special interest in supporting the Aspirations Foundation to help them further develop their mango cultivation projects. Deakin University also 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 Income Generation activity at B/Kandegama Maha Vidyalaya, Ridimaliyadda was another unique project.