During the trip out to Sri Lanka in July 2012, Robert visited five new schools, all of whom are keen to be brought under Extra Cover’s umbrella. The schools are collectively in the Galle to Udugama “corridor” in the Galle District – not far from our existing schools – and all are overseen by hugely caring and thoughtful principals and teachers.
A few miles from the two Yatalamata schools, the school at Lelwala has 150 children from grades 1-11. From the moment you arrive, you sense that this is an industrious school, with an ethos of discipline and mutual respect.
The school has benefited from donations from other charities in the past, most notably HSBC, which provided about 50 beautiful state of the art desks which far outdo anything found at Brighton College.
The problem (there always is a problem!) is that the senior classroom has no window grills, and since it is foolhardy to leave them out in out of school hours, they have to be moved into the (grilled and secure) junior classrooms. Wild animals make a mess in the senior classrooms every night, and the first lesson of the day is manure removal.
The principal has asked us to provide 80 breakfast buns a day for pupils in grades 6-11, who do not receive government food. He says that several of the older children regularly faint in morning assembly because of hunger, that he has a special “fainting” room set aside for them.
Just 3 kilometres from Nawala School – and like Nawala on a severe slope, surrounded by tea – Navungala School caters to some 80 children from grades 1-5. On the second trip in July Brighton College pupils spent a day there and loved every moment of it. Two “structural” concerns were clear to see: 1) the playground equipment is completely broken and unusable, and 2) the principle set of stairs from the lower tier to the upper tier of the school is crumbling so badly that exuberant children keep falling off and badly injuring themselves. Might Extra Cover consider helping to replace both?
With Ella Ehela school (see below) Watogala must be one the most remote, and certainly poorest schools in the region. 8.5 bumpy kilometres from Kottawa, there are 35 children in grades 1-5, all using a single classroom.
The school has few resources; no playground, insufficient blackboards and furniture, not even a school sign.
A similar size of school to Navungala, Ella Ihala is the easternmost school in the Galle District. It is also one of the poorest. The atmosphere is vibrant and cheerful but like so many other schools currently on Extra Cover’s books, the pupils could benefit from school uniform and shoes, something more to eat every day, classroom furniture, and some new playground equipment.
Under a rolling programme, Gonalagoda School is changing from an institution catering to children from grades 1-11, to a “primary” school working exclusively with children in grades 1-5.
Remote, poor and very, very proud, the school is run by a visionary principal who clearly wants every child under his care to thrive academically, and be a proud Sri Lankan national. Mr Andawatta Hemapala would like us to consider providing his charges with a daily breakfast and purchasing “scholarship packs” (including mock papers) for the all-important Grade 5 exams.