A Great Work from Rajarata After the Olden Days – DotCom March 01, 2002

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A great work from Rajarata after the olden days
The sign of Anuradhapura on the internet

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Click above image to read the feature in Sinhala.

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Original Sinhala version was written by Ranjith Gunarathna March 01, 2002

The meaning of horizon is the imaginary point where the sky meets the ocean or earth. It’s only an optical illusion. But the horizon that I am going to write about today is not such an illusion. This is a story about a reality, which is rare even in the dream world. It’s a story of a courageous set of students lead by a young determined teacher.

What would you think when you hear about Mahawilachchiya village in Anuradhapura?

How would you think when you hear about a set of students born and bred there? I can guess how would you think about them. But I met these young children on their picturesque website www.horizonlanka.org. If you have the Internet access please visit this website.

The Horizon School is a private school. Though they are doing internationally recognized work it is different form a so-called international school. The Horizon is a free school started with the intention of improving English language and computer education of the innocent, yet intelligent students in a rural village, which is surrounded by the sprawling Vilpaththu Game Sanctuary. Their teacher is Mr. Nandasiri Wanninayaka teaches the children free of charge. Classes are held under a mango tree with a few old desks and benches. Though the Horizon School is a private school, it does not have the comforts modern buildings and air-conditioned rooms.

It gave a great happiness and a pride to visit www.horizonlanka.org site. The site depicted the beauty of a charming rural lass in Anuradhapura. Free from visuals that are painful to the eye and noisy sound effects, this site can be downloaded very easily due to the very reason saving the time and the money of the surfer. And avoiding the common hazard of losing your way in the labyrinth of hyperlinks in a web site, in this site, road signs are quite clear. You can visit every page very easily.

Their journal, the Horizon Journal is also on the web now. It has been started as a handwritten journal at the beginning. Those very first handwritten copies are also scanned and uploaded to the Horizon site. They are the mileposts of their hard journey from the Vilpaththu jungle to the World Wide Web.

I must not forget to mention about the eye-catching pictures in the site. Those pictures speak thousands of words about the talents of Mr. Wanninayaka and his flock of students. The images in the site tell us the hard way passed in their journey. The pictures showing the way to Mahavilachchiya, the water reservoir, the village and the picture on the day they first saw the Ocean, charmed my eyes.

Mr. Wanni has not finished his own web page yet when we last visited the site. He had to postponed it because of the other pages of the website. This is a good lesson for some teachers who make poor students their cart animals following the motto “Not from me to you, but from you to my purse.”

Then we met their foster parents Mr. Donald Gamnitillake and Mrs. Bhadra Gamnitillake’s page. Mr. Donald has been working in Japan as an image technologist for more than 20 years and Ms. Bhadra is a graduate of Ikebana art. The horizon kids mention their foster patents gratefully. We must not forget Mr. Sanjeewa Wickramanayaka, the CEO of the E-Wis and Mr. Mahen Kariyawasam, the Managing Director of Andrews Travels who provided them with a computer at first.

The chairperson of the Horizon Computer Club, Miss Gayani Pushpakumari is still in Grade 8. The Editor of the Horizon Journal Miss Niluka Priyadarshani Dissanayaka is in Grade 12.

Mr. Wanni had to leave the government school he worked, due to some unfortunate incidents. Though the reasons are not known to us, we must add that it is unfortunate to lose such talented teachers from the school system. Mr. Wanni is not the one and only teacher the Nation lost in this way. Authorities must cast their eyes on this serious problem if they ever want to improve the education of this country.

Here we must say that we are really happy to see “our own ones” among the first “settlers” in the Cyber Space.

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