Until a few months ago Yatalamatha Junior School had a problem with pupils not having immediate access to fresh water, as a pipeline from the senior school a quarter of a mile up the road was proving unreliable. It was a privilege for Extra Cover to arrange for the necessary engineering work and see fresh flowing water, literally on tap, for the 150 pupils.

The school has kindly agreed to play host to Brighton College pupils in July. The principal, Mrs Pushpumala, has approved a two-day English “camp” at which College students will use drama, music and more traditional classroom methods to encourage Yatalamatha girls and boys to deepen their knowledge of, and love for, the language.


Matthew and Robert visited Malamura School for the first time in February 2012. With the strategic principal Mr Weerasinghe at the helm, it is definitely a school in the ascendancy – there are currently 40 pupils in grades 1-3, rolling up to grade 5 over the next couple of years – and the parents actively support the staff in their determination to ensure their children have the best education possible. Their most pressing need at the moment is access to clean water. Extra Cover has agreed to consider a quotation for the building of a concrete lined well, with pump and connection to a water tank.


With some 175 children on the school roll, Gonadeniya is by far the largest school with which Extra Cover is engaged. The principal Mr Arachi recognises the value of pupils learning both outside, as well as inside, the classroom, and we were recently delighted to help in the building of an open-air theatre in the heart of the school grounds.
Extra Cover is assisting with the daily food programme for approximately half the pupil body, now each child receives a meal every school day of the year.


A thirty minutes’ drive (in truth a gentle jungle safari) from Polwattha School, Nakanda was the first school to which Extra Cover had food delivered daily. Since then, shoes, stationery and games equipment have all been supplied when needed, and over the years Extra Cover has repaired a disused well, installed a water storage tank and covered the costs of fixing doors, window mesh (to prevent unwanted night-time intruders) and fluorescent lights.
News has reached us that the school may well be closed as part of the educational re-zoning programme. We shall report on any developments and of the destination of the pupils


Situated only a few miles from the town of Weligama, there is a more sophisticated, “urban” feel to the Polwattha School than others with whom we work. The pupils are certainly more used to seeing foreigners in their midst, and there is greater emphasis on sport here than at some of the more remote schools.
In the early days after the tsunami, Extra Cover helped with the supply of vitamins, stationery, shoes and socks, and later on it sponsored an educational tour for the more senior pupils, enabling them to see some of their country’s cultural heritage sites.
The recent educational re-zoning has altered the composition of the pupil body somewhat; there are now 49 children on the school roll, with 22 in Grade 1, and one clear emphasis of the principal Mrs Kanthi and her dedicated teachers is the encouragement of all the pupils to have an excellent grasp of the English language.
Some of the children receive packs of dry rations; all have recently received new shoes. This year Extra Cover has agreed to cover the costs of repair to the school’s much-used and much-enjoyed playground equipment.


Of all the schools with whom we work, Kottegoda (situated about 30 minutes’ drive east of Matara) has undergone the greatest transformation since 2005. From sharing one large room, pupils now study in separate classrooms in a building atop the steep hillside that makes up the school’s grounds. It is here that the 28 children (13 in grade 1, hinting at rapid expansion) spend most of their time, and in the past month Extra Cover has agreed to fund the creation of a playground at the top of the school. Parent volunteers are clearing the scrubland, and we hope to have the play area in use by July.
Kottegaoda is a friendly, charming school and, since the educational re-zoning at the beginning of the year, has shown itself to be forward-looking and ambitious. We are committed to helping the principal Mr Sampath in preparing children for examinations and have recently bought scholarship papers for the Grade 5 class, to help them in their revision. Over the years we have helped the school with similar educational resources, as well as furniture, shoes and a new toilet. The children receive dry ration packs.


Nawala bristles with energy. The staff at this school of 100 children, high up in the hills an hour northeast of Galle, is exuberant and supremely dedicated in equal measure. Mr Chandarasiri, the principal, and his colleagues have collaborated with Extra Cover on a number of projects – the most significant of which has been the building of a Montessori (“Pre-Prep”) school, together with a separate, fully furnished playground. There are now 15 Montessori pupils, taught by two specialist teachers.

Nawala is a “community” school – the whole village is engaged with the education of the girls and boys – and Extra Cover is privileged to be part of their dream. In July the school will host a cricket match with Brighton college pupils. The last two years have seen similar contests – both times the English side has been utterly humiliated.


Set in idyllic surroundings (water buffalo nonchalantly chew the cud in the paddy fields to one side while to the other playful monkeys shake the treetops) the hillside school of Bemboda currently has 25 pupils, from Grades 1-5. There is a wonderful, “family” feel about the place: under the watchful eye of their principal Mr Upali, the teachers care for all aspects of the welfare of their charges, educational and beyond.
When we first came across this lovely little school, their two most pressing problems were food and water, and Extra Cover saw to the provision of food packs for the children, and also paid for an electrical connection to the school’s well, pumping up fresh water into the main buildings. We have provided whiteboards and painted much of the furniture), covered the cost of repairing playground equipment, and most recently have paid for a fence to be installed around the front and side of the buildings. This is to prevent wild animals – not least wild boar – entering the classrooms and making an awful mess.
Bemboda warms the heart of anyone who visits. Far from the big cities, the school exudes amagnificent “joi de vivre” and communal spirit.


A few miles from Patawelivitiya is the small community of Mahalapitiya. Until 2010 a Buddhist monk ran the small school there and Extra Cover helped him provide the children with food, fresh water from a re-built well, stationery and shoes and socks. The school has since closed.


Pathawelivitiya is the smallest of the schools with whom Extra Cover collaborates. Less than a hundred metres from the shore of the River Ging, the school comprises a dozen pupils, who study under the tutelage of two teachers and the watchful eye of their principal Mrs Gayanthi. Over the years we have helped the school with food, stationery, footwear and educational resources, and recently it has become the “base’ for our tea planting initiative (see separate web page). In February 2012 we provided the pupils with new shoes and paid for “welcome packs” (of educational materials such as pens and exercise books) for the four newest arrivals.
The construction of a bridge over the river has made the village more accessible, and it is hoped that, given the greater social mobility, the school and its children will flourish.