Volunteer teaching English in Sri Lanka in a community school
Education is taken very seriously in Sri Lanka and nearly all children up to the age of fourteen attend school. Sri Lanka’s population has a literacy rate of 92%, higher than that expected for a third world country and the highest literacy rate in South Asia.
There are two schools close to Galle that repeatedly request volunteer support. The first is a small school teaching 100 children aged 11-17 (grades 6-13) situated in a small village 20 minutes from Galle. The school is non-governmental and teaches children from the poorest of families. It lacks basic equipment but boasts a beautiful music and arts classroom. Volunteers would assist with the teaching of English, and help provide extracurricular activities such as dance, music or sports in the afternoon. Athletics, netball, football and cricket are particularly encouraged.
The second school is much bigger with approximately 1500 students aged 5 -18. Volunteers teach English, sometimes to classes of 30+ students, but also to individual students and to the staff who are also keen to improve their English. Sport is important, cricket and athletics in particular.
Working in one of these schools would give you unusual access to the traditional culture. By undertaking a teaching project, you would become a central part of the community and would have every opportunity to make relationships with local people and join in with village activities. Over the course of a three-month teaching project you could become immersed in the fascinating Sinhalese culture.
An overseas volunteering opportunity that is ideal for those wanting to teach English as a foreign language and gap year students
The school hours are typically from 7.30am – 1.30pm, which caters for the teaching of a full syllabus. Volunteers would work out there individual timetable of activities with the local staff, based on their local needs at the time, typically rotating between different classes of different ages to lead or support English lessons.
Volunteers are encouraged to develop after school activities across a range of sports, dance, drama, music and home-work clubs. Both the need and the opportunity are there for a volunteer to make a big difference in this respect, so some forethought as to what experience and talents you can bring to bear are welcome. You don’t need to be an expert – you are filling in a vacuum and pushing yourself will help you discover new talents in both the children and you.
English is particularly important in a country divided by linguistic barriers that uses English as the common language. It is widely spoken by people whose education was based on colonial principles but standards are now lower. Your help will improve the teaching capacity, but also help children practice with a native speaker.
The importance of non-academic subjects such as art and sports is increasingly recognised, but teachers don’t always have skills or time. Volunteers can therefore fill an important gap in the children’s development.
It is not easy to say goodbye. I would love to come back to Sri Lanka and visit the project, so I feel that although my last day was very sad, I will be able to see these people again, Disabled peoples project in Sri Lanka