2021 May 18
Ever wondered how school going kids out of Colombo have to study or what their school is like. Well, that’s exactly what the Colombo Mid Town thought of. BrighterBee 360 is the signature project for the year 2020-2021 organised by the Rotaract Club of Colombo Mid Town, with the aim of improving education standards for the less privileged.
With this in mind, the club chose a rural school in a village called Ilukpitiya Vidyalaya that has limited facilities and poor infrastructure, with the aim of developing the school’s infrastructure and creating a sustainable environment to thrive. The Ilukpitiya Vidyalaya currently caters to 170 students from grades 1 to 11. The students are from a low-income earning economic background with all of their guardians or parents being daily wage-earners (Can you guess what it is? Well it is 400. Could you survive on such a wage?).
On 26th July early morning, we left Colombo heading towards Deniyaya (nothing like a Rotaract road trip) to conduct a need survey of the school. After 3 hours of driving, we reached the school. As per the information we received, we witnessed that the existing infrastructure resources of the school were in a poor state as they have limited classroom space. From grades 5 to 9, they had only one large common classroom and no classroom facility at all for grade 11 to carry out their usual school lessons. The whole structure has never been renovated after it was first built, which was back in 1964 (Yes, the year Mary Poppins was released).
The existing roofing structure of the school was on the verge of completely collapsing as it had some serious damages due to corrosion. Whenever it rains, the students were not able to carry on with their usual lessons with the rainwater leakages. The School’s sanitary facilities were also not sufficient as there were only 5 toilets for the whole school including the staff and 170 students. The School’s library is one small room with an adjoining sick room which is enclosed using cloth material as separators. The library has a handful of books which mostly consisted of used textbooks which is a part of their curriculum. The school has a decently sized playground however, the students have absolutely no equipment at all and they do not practice any sports during or after school hours. After the need survey, we envisioned taking responsibility for the renovation of the infrastructure of the school in multiple phases.
For the second phase after the need survey, we went back to the school on the 4th of October to conduct a seminar targeting the grade 5 scholarship examination which was going to be held on the 10th of October. With the participation of over 50 students including the students from two nearby schools, the seminar was conducted by a renowned grade 5 teacher from Matara. At the end of the seminar, we distributed a stationery pack for each student as well.
Afterwards, we did not forget to visit the glamourous Patna waterfall to spend some leisure time after a long day before heading back to Colombo. Going to Patna waterfalls, we had to switch into an off-road machine to get there. Once there we did what all cool kids do when a chance is presented and we slid across the river.
After partnering up with many donors, we started renovating the roofs in the school as the third phase. The most crucial building was the main building as its condition was worse and it was accommodating students from grades 5 to 9. Hence, we started the renovation with the school main building roof and then we renovated grade 1, 2 and 10 classroom roofs as well. With support from villagers, we completely replaced the roofing wood structure and asbestos sheets of all these three buildings within one month.
With the beginning of the 2021 new year, the next biggest point for this school was a classroom facility for grade 11 as this year is the first time that the school has students for grade 11. As the fourth phase, on the 14th of February, we started constructions to build a 400 sq ft classroom building from scratch to develop a comfortable learning environment for grade 11 students. Unfortunately, grade 6 students are studying inside the library these days due to a lack of classroom facilities.
Subsequently, we are planning to provide solutions for sanitary facility problems and other infrastructure constraints in Ilukpitya Vidyalaya. The Club also hopes to take the project further than just a physical renovation, by improving the economic backgrounds of the students, by setting up donors for the students through which the education, meals and travel expenses of the students will be funded.
Education brings stability to life which no one can ever take away from you. We, the Rotaract Club of Colombo Mid Town would strongly provide our maximum effort to bring stability to the lives of these students in Ilukpitya Vidyalaya, Deniyaya.