Special Education Project – Plantation Schools

As intended the second model exam for the students facing the 2010 O/Level examinations from the Division 2 Nuwara Eliya Education Zone in Talawakelle were held recently. The object of the joint venture initiated by Dilmah partner in Norway, Noramix Group and MJFCF is to prepare the Ordinary Level Examination students of the 22 schools to face the final examinations in December.

The project was initiated in regard to a request made by the In- Service Coordinator of the Nuwara Eliya Education Zone, who met the Foundation team at the opening of the Holyrood school. There are approximately 200 schools in the Nuwara Eliya district out of which twenty five schools were selected for the project. The examinations are conducted in accordance to the standards of the O/L examinations. This helps the students to be prepared for the final exams.

The model examinations are held for 950 students who would be facing the GCE O/L examinations in December 2010. This exam which focuses on ‘s and English will be held on the third Tuesday and Wednesday of every month till November. Since there are no extra revision classes for the O/L students in this area this project would help the students immensely in preparing for the final examinations.

The MJFCF team visited the schools during the examination which was held in June. They received a positive feedback from the teachers and the students of the Talawakelle and Kotagala schools. The teachers have been very efficient on this project and they have informed that the model exams conducted by the MJFCF were helping the students immensely in their preparations for the final exams in December. It is encouraging to see the teachers take great interest in this project. Furthermore they help the students by having extra classes, reviewing past papers and setting the model exam papers.

According to the Principal of St. Patrick’s College Talawakelle, Fr. Leonard, this is the first time that a corporate organization is conducting a project of this caliber to enhance the quality of education for the children of plantation workers. Mr. Gnanapragasam, Principal of Cambridge College Kotagala and Mrs. Vethanayagam, Principal of Kotagala TMV expressed similar sentiments.

Some of the students also expressed their views and gratitude regarding the project.

Sriharan, GCE O/L student from St. Patrick’s College said “Maths is a subject which could be perfected only through continuous practice of sums and formulas. The initiative of the MJF Foundation, in giving us opportunities to sit for 7 mock exams from May to December will definitely give us an abundance of such practice and confidence to face the final exam in December.”

Jacintha, a student from the same school said “even though we study and revise in order to be prepared for the O/L exams in December, we would be nervous when we enter the exam halls for the first time, but the monthly model exams simulate the final exams, which will help us to be more confident.” In addition she stated “we are indeed fortunate to have had this opportunity and will certainly make maximum use of it and produce the results expected of our teachers and thereby justify the initiatives taken by MJF and also will justify the need for continuity of similar support towards plantations children’s education in the future.” Many students are aiming to obtain an “A” grade for Mathematics in their O/L examinations.

Besides being beneficial for the students, the model exams are helpful for the teachers to finish the syllabus and reach their monthly targets.

When the examination papers are marked the teachers review the papers along with the students which help them to learn from their mistakes.

Currently, the average percentage which passes Maths in this area is recorded as 22% and the teachers and the Foundation aim to increase this rate to 35% – 40%. While only 18% of the students pass the O/L English examination. The goal is to raise the standards to 22%.

The results of the model exams will be monitored and analyzed by the MJFCF and the foundation also encouraged the teachers to pay special attention to the weaker students in order to improve the overall standards.

With the successful completion of the May, June and July examinations the MJF Charitable Foundation is looking forward in conducting the monthly model exams until November and they are enthusiastic to see the students improving their standards and growing confident as the final examinations draw closer. Noramix Group which is a member of the ETS supported the Foundation to empower the plantation children by sponsoring the examinations and the printing of exam papers.

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