Education for Tea Estate Children, Sri Lanka

Date Posted:25 October 2016 |   Author: Nicole Fairley |  

Tradewinds Overseas Aid Fund (a tax deductible fund) directs much needed resources to projects which make a real difference in people’s lives. During 2015/ 16 the Fund helped Satyodaya implement the Children’s Education Development Project with the remote Colgrain Tea Estate community located in Sri Lanka’s central highlands.

The project is designed to improve the conditions necessary for children’s educational achievement.  As members of a cultural minority who endure generational poverty, the challenges to gaining an education are great. Travel to and from the nearest school is a 14 km round trip on foot because government buses will not travel on the rough, unsealed road. Teachers hold low expectations for their academic success because tea estate children generally underperform at school. This reinforces parents’ low expectations whose experiences of school, if they attended, were more often than not, negative. Where parents do value education, very often they are unable to assist children with study as they work long hours and/ or are illiterate. Less than 50% of tea estate children complete secondary school in Sri Lanka resulting in an inability to locate employment, fewer life options and little or alternative than to remain on the tea estate and a life of ongoing socio-economic disadvantage.

The recently published report on the project evaluation highlights solid results in the first year of the Children’s Education Development Project. The positive changes noted by the evaluator are:

  • Family members actively giving the message to children that it is essential to continue their education up to matriculation
  • The community, parents and the children themselves are very involved in running the project
  • Children demonstrating an increase in enthusiasm for education, including more regular school attendance, active participation in after school education related activities and less time watching TV, and use of home study desks to do homework, as reported by parents
  • Parents showing greater support for their children’s learning, so far evidenced by parents talking about children’s education and checking that children are studying where they had not done so previously
  • Parents supporting the education activities and joining in education awareness workshops

The community’s changing attitudes toward a general valuing of education is also evident in its decision to raise funds, with Satyodaya’s assistance, to repair the run-down community hall on the estate so that it can be utilised as a dedicated and ‘sacred’ space for children.

Long term Tradewind’s supporters Michael and Jill Finnane visited the Colgrain community in October and witnessed the progress that has been made since the project began in May 2015. Families were proud to show them the study corners in their line huts. The children’s play space is a colourful and inviting area for children to play and learn rather than an empty open space, and the preschool and after school study centre is a vibrant hub with walls full of learning materials rather than the dilapidated building we visited in January 2015.

The Children’s Education Development Project aims to support approximately 250 children in years 5 to 11 between the years 2015 – 2019 to improve educational outcomes.

We invite you to become a partner in this exciting project by making a tax deductible donation when you purchase your tea and coffee. You could also set up a monthly donation to the project. 100% of what you donate goes directly to the project

  • $50 contributes to purchase of educational toys and equipment  for the educational play space
  • $100 buys an education awareness program
  • $150 buys a study desk and chair to create children’s study space in their home
  • $1200 is the cost of one educational awareness program for 12 months
  • $1500 is the total cost of an educational play space

We will let you know about the progress of the children as we receive the news from Satyodaya. Each year Satyodaya evaluates the program’s progress and impact against the project objectives and provides a report to Tradewinds.

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