151. Alain Horst – Switzerland

151.	Alain Horst – Switzerland

Alain Horst – Switzerland

Mr. Alain Horst from Switzerland volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in May, 2018.

TOUR REPORT 

“Dear Nanda

We thank you for the opportunity you gave us to teach English here in Sri Lanka. We learned a lot about the country and its people. We were astonished how greatly we had been welcomed in the village, especially in Segars house and how keen the children were to learn new things. Without knowing English and the western culture, Segars parents had been amazing hosts. Even though our stay had many positive aspects, we decided to leave earlier than planned, as the work was much more challenging and time consuming then described on workaway.info. We think that the Horizon Lanka Academy has a very good aim, but we also think that some points need to be improved for the next volunteers. Below we listed some points that may be improved.

Before Arrival

The communication before our arrival was very short, but as you referenced on your informative website, it was ok for us. The website has information about almost everything. As the website is only for the village Mahawilachchiya it was obvious for us that we will teach in Mahawilachchiya itself.

Our recommendation: As most of the volunteers do not teach in the village itself, it should be made clearly on the website that the academy is spread over whole Sri Lanka and many new branches are opening right now. The volunteers need to know, that the meeting point may not be in Mahawilachchiya.

Arrival

From Colombo we had a six hour bus drive to Anuradhapura, just to be informed that we could teach in Nanu Oya which was another six hour bus drive back to the south. We could have gone there directly from Colombo with comfortable two hours in the train.

Our recommendation: Plan and discuss already in advance where the volunteers should go and save a lot of time and energy of the volunteers. This time and energy should better be used for the work with the children.

New Guest Families

The culture of Sri Lanka and of the one from the western people is very different and we were happy to receive the code of ethics in advance. These rules are very good and very important. Unfortunately we had to learn that our guest family never received these rules. Also you told us that the family has no western toilet but you never mentioned that the family has no shower and the washing happens outside the house. Even though we had been very
surprised, it was no problem for us as we are used to this kind of washing trough our camping experiences.

Our recommendation: The code of ethics should be a high priority to new guest families and you should not just send it to them, but furthermore discuss it with them and make sure everything is well understood. We think it must also be clearly communicated how the situation with toilet and non existing bathroom is, as we are sure many volunteers will have some trouble with it.

Opening a New Branch

Organisation

When we arrived in Nanu Oya, the first day we had to visit the regional education director, the vice regional education director and as well the headmasters of the schools to explain them the organisation Horizon Lanka and what we are going to teach. We felt that neither the local administrator nor the school directors had been informed how Horizon Lanka works and what the volunteers are here for. We would have loved to know for ourselves what our
tasks here would be.

Our recommendation: If opening a new branch, make sure that all people involved know what the academy is about and what the volunteers are capable of and what not.

Working hours

On our arrival we had been asked to work five hours in the morning in four different public schools, four hours in the afternoon for the academy and the evening to improve the English of Segar. Also we had been asked to work on Saturday the whole day. The next day we discussed it again and lowered the working hours. But it was difficult for us to arrive and first have to say “no” to everything.

Our recommendation: Offer the volunteers the minimum amount of working hours and give them the possibility to teach more hours if they want. This gives them the chance to grow slowly in their work. Also we think it is much better if the volunteer work in the beginning just in one school to get to know the teachers, students and rules of the schools. More schools could be added, if the volunteer feels comfortable.

English Teaching Public School

From beginning it was expected of us to teach the classes without the help of a local English teacher. We explained clearly that this is not possible for us, as we didn’t know the level of the children nor how the school here works. Beside an English book (which did not fit to the level of the children), no teaching material was present. In the end, the English teacher did not show up the whole morning. Laura as an experienced teacher was able to teach the classes without school material for a whole morning. But it was extremely stressful for her. For volunteers without many years of teaching experience this would have been just impossible.

Our recommendation: As everyone can teach for Horizon Academy many inexperienced volunteers will come. We think teaching for them is just possible if they get the support of an experienced teacher, very small groups of children or at least good teaching material. If no English teacher and no material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lessons.

English Teaching Academy Afternoon

In the afternoon twenty very motivated children had been there. We decided to teach English as the school headmaster clearly expressed that he would prefer us to teach English than dancing lessons. As we did not have any teaching material, we also needed to prepare the lessons for the afternoon which was very time consuming.

Our recommendation: If no teaching material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lesson. It would be a good idea for the Horizon Lanka Academy to provide some material to the volunteers including for example ideas for games and songs.

IT Teaching

When we arrived in Nanu Oya we learned that no computers are available for the children and that I also should teach English. One school had computers but they were reserved for the teachers.

Our recommendation: If someone is sent to teach IT, make sure that some IT infrastructure is available.
If some of our mentioned recommendations could be put into practice, we are sure, that it could be an amazing experience for all involved parties. Thank you again for the great experience and all the best for the future!”

Explanation

Dear Laura and Alain,

Thanks for the valuable feedback. I understand that many things went disarray as Horizon Academy – Nanu Oya was not yet ready when I sent you two there. In fact, I had not decided to send volunteers there till I go there for a second time and ensure everything is in order. The rash decision to send you two there was based on the extremely hot weather prevailed in Anuradhapura during mornings. But, I should still have made better arrangements in Nanu Oya. I apologize and take responsibility for all these and thank you two a lot for doing a lot despite the unfavorable conditions you faced. – Nanda Wanninayaka (The Founder and Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation.)

Alain Horst from Switzerland teaching the students in Nanu Oya
Alain Horst from Switzerland teaching the students in Nanu Oya

150. Laura Horst – Switzerland

150.	Laura Horst – Switzerland

150.	Laura Horst - SwitzerlandMs. Laura Horst from Switzerland volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in May, 2018.

TOUR REPORT 

“Dear Nanda

We thank you for the opportunity you gave us to teach English here in Sri Lanka. We learned a lot about the country and its people. We were astonished how greatly we had been welcomed in the village, especially in Segars house and how keen the children were to learn new things. Without knowing English and the western culture, Segars parents had been amazing hosts. Even though our stay had many positive aspects, we decided to leave earlier than planned, as the work was much more challenging and time consuming then described on workaway.info. We think that the Horizon Lanka Academy has a very good aim, but we also think that some points need to be improved for the next volunteers. Below we listed some points that may be improved.

Before Arrival

The communication before our arrival was very short, but as you referenced on your informative website, it was ok for us. The website has information about almost everything. As the website is only for the village Mahawilachchiya it was obvious for us that we will teach in Mahawilachchiya itself.

Our recommendation: As most of the volunteers do not teach in the village itself, it should be made clearly on the website that the academy is spread over whole Sri Lanka and many new branches are opening right now. The volunteers need to know, that the meeting point may not be in Mahawilachchiya.

Arrival

From Colombo we had a six hour bus drive to Anuradhapura, just to be informed that we could teach in Nanu Oya which was another six hour bus drive back to the south. We could have gone there directly from Colombo with comfortable two hours in the train.

Our recommendation: Plan and discuss already in advance where the volunteers should go and save a lot of time and energy of the volunteers. This time and energy should better be used for the work with the children.

New Guest Families

The culture of Sri Lanka and of the one from the western people is very different and we were happy to receive the code of ethics in advance. These rules are very good and very important. Unfortunately we had to learn that our guest family never received these rules. Also you told us that the family has no western toilet but you never mentioned that the family has no shower and the washing happens outside the house. Even though we had been very
surprised, it was no problem for us as we are used to this kind of washing trough our camping experiences.

Our recommendation: The code of ethics should be a high priority to new guest families and you should not just send it to them, but furthermore discuss it with them and make sure everything is well understood. We think it must also be clearly communicated how the situation with toilet and non existing bathroom is, as we are sure many volunteers will have some trouble with it.

Opening a New Branch

Organisation

When we arrived in Nanu Oya, the first day we had to visit the regional education director, the vice regional education director and as well the headmasters of the schools to explain them the organisation Horizon Lanka and what we are going to teach. We felt that neither the local administrator nor the school directors had been informed how Horizon Lanka works and what the volunteers are here for. We would have loved to know for ourselves what our
tasks here would be.

Our recommendation: If opening a new branch, make sure that all people involved know what the academy is about and what the volunteers are capable of and what not.

Working hours

On our arrival we had been asked to work five hours in the morning in four different public schools, four hours in the afternoon for the academy and the evening to improve the English of Segar. Also we had been asked to work on Saturday the whole day. The next day we discussed it again and lowered the working hours. But it was difficult for us to arrive and first have to say “no” to everything.

Our recommendation: Offer the volunteers the minimum amount of working hours and give them the possibility to teach more hours if they want. This gives them the chance to grow slowly in their work. Also we think it is much better if the volunteer work in the beginning just in one school to get to know the teachers, students and rules of the schools. More schools could be added, if the volunteer feels comfortable.

English Teaching Public School

From beginning it was expected of us to teach the classes without the help of a local English teacher. We explained clearly that this is not possible for us, as we didn’t know the level of the children nor how the school here works. Beside an English book (which did not fit to the level of the children), no teaching material was present. In the end, the English teacher did not show up the whole morning. Laura as an experienced teacher was able to teach the classes without school material for a whole morning. But it was extremely stressful for her. For volunteers without many years of teaching experience this would have been just impossible.

Our recommendation: As everyone can teach for Horizon Academy many inexperienced volunteers will come. We think teaching for them is just possible if they get the support of an experienced teacher, very small groups of children or at least good teaching material. If no English teacher and no material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lessons.

English Teaching Academy Afternoon

In the afternoon twenty very motivated children had been there. We decided to teach English as the school headmaster clearly expressed that he would prefer us to teach English than dancing lessons. As we did not have any teaching material, we also needed to prepare the lessons for the afternoon which was very time consuming.

Our recommendation: If no teaching material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lesson. It would be a good idea for the Horizon Lanka Academy to provide some material to the volunteers including for example ideas for games and songs.

IT Teaching

When we arrived in Nanu Oya we learned that no computers are available for the children and that I also should teach English. One school had computers but they were reserved for the teachers.

Our recommendation: If someone is sent to teach IT, make sure that some IT infrastructure is available.
If some of our mentioned recommendations could be put into practice, we are sure, that it could be an amazing experience for all involved parties. Thank you again for the great experience and all the best for the future!”

Explanation

Dear Laura and Alain,

Thanks for the valuable feedback. I understand that many things went disarray as Horizon Academy – Nanu Oya was not yet ready when I sent you two there. In fact, I had not decided to send volunteers there till I go there for a second time and ensure everything is in order. The rash decision to send you two there was based on the extremely hot weather prevailed in Anuradhapura during mornings. But, I should still have made better arrangements in Nanu Oya. I apologize and take responsibility for all these and thank you two a lot for doing a lot despite the unfavorable conditions you faced. – Nanda Wanninayaka (The Founder and Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation.)

Ms. Laura Horst   from Switzerland teaching students in Nanu Oya.
Ms. Laura Horst from Switzerland teaching students in Nanu Oya.

115. Susan Horrowitz – The United Kingdom

115.	Susan Horrowitz – The United Kingdom

118. Susannah Horowitz - The United Kingdom

Ms. Susan Horrowitz from The United Kingdom was the first volunteer in 2018. She volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in January, 2018.

Sri Lankan fruits spread at Susannah's farewell party.
Sri Lankan fruits spread at Susan’s farewell party.

Computer Literacy and English Education – Overcoming the Challenges – Sunday Times – June 10, 2007

Computer Literacy and English Education – Overcoming the Challenges – Sunday Times – June 10, 2007

Horizon Lanka GirlsNishantha Kamaladasa CEO, Distance Learning Centre Ltd

 Computer literacy and the English language skills are necessary to build a competent employee required by the corporate sector. However this competency is absent in many educated youth. This is in spite of increased government and parental spending.

These two important subject areas have not reached the expected level of achievement because they also have been taught by teachers at classes but not been learnt by the students. They did not learn English or ICT because they had not used either, in the process of learning.

This dilemma reminds us about the famous Chinese proverb which says “You forget what you hear and see, but remember what you do”.

We have been teaching computer skills and English but it had no immediate use to the learner, especially to those who live in rural environments. In such an environment it is difficult to motivate them to learn and especially motivate them to consolidate what they have learnt.

Possibilities

Hence if we are to promote the two subjects, within the rural community, we should find out an immediate application for those, within such communities.

If ICT and English can be used to develop the village, then there is a need for the lads to learn. If there are tourists with whom they have to transact in English they would learn English. If there are enquiries for their products from foreign countries they would learn English and ICT to communicate. If the village is benefited by information provided by the web they will look in to the web. If the web allows them to get an application form (down load) that they have to go miles to collect they will search the web. If that can be filled up and sent electronically they would gladly look for the web.

Mahawilachchiya Initiative

There is one particular experiment that stands out with regards to English and ICT education. This was referred recently even by His Excellency the President as well, on the topic of education. He talked of the necessity of having similar initiatives in the other villages of Sri Lanka.

The interest expressed by the head of the state on the subject has brought many to think about getting similar results. However, any replication has to be tried out after careful study about the success factors. If one is careful enough to study what had happened in Mahawilachchiya he/she will find that there was more to it than teaching ICT and English. Both those essential elements were used to transact with the rest of the world to get assistance to their village. Hence both ICT and English were used. Hence those were learnt.

What the pioneers at Mahawilachchiya did was to create the necessary environment for the children to learn English and ICT. The children had something more to achieve by learning both those; other than learning for the sake of learning. They had to use those to realize the expectations of the village and the education system that was set before them. They had aspirations to meet, which they could not without English and ICT.

More than Technology and Knowledge

To take this kind of initiative you also need a person more than an English teacher with ICT literacy. It requires a person who is environment sensitive and also with a knack for self learning.

Contents are taught at School. But you need to understand the context in which you are supposed to apply those contents. Contexts have to be self-learnt by being sensitive to the environment and by engaging with it. It is learnt in the process of dealing with it. Most of our school products fail in this experiment. They are scared to interact and learn; they expect somebody to spoon feed them as what was done in the school. But contexts cannot be taught; they are different; they are time and space bound.

Only entrepreneurship will provide this initiative of interacting with the context with view of learning it.

It is difficult to teach entrepreneurship but you can identify the potential entrepreneurs and empower them.

Entrepreneur at Mahawilachchiya

Mahawilachchiya had such an entrepreneur in the name of Nanda Wanninayaka. We need to have similar entrepreneurs in the villages that we are going to replicate the same (e-village program). Once selected, they have to be empowered. They will then join with English teachers and ICT literates to create the e-village.

Identifying and Empowering Entrepreneurs

Hence it is suggested that we put some effort in identifying these entrepreneurs in the selected villages and empower them through a facilitation program, where brain storming sessions would be the basic methodology in getting them oriented towards the initiative.

Distance Learning Centre Ltd, where I work, had undertaken two successful programs in empowering such entrepreneurs. Our experience had been that empowering entrepreneurs is not hard but identifying and selecting them is. The reason is that they are not available in large numbers given the education and training environment that exist in the country.

Conclusion

E-village program can meet the expectations of the educationists with this kind of intervention (identifying and empowering entrepreneurs who will use the two tools- English and ICT- in bringing a change in the village).  Secondary Education Modernization Project has understood this position very much and is in the process of facilitating this process.

The same model could be applied to other subjects as well. The motto should be that one should use something if he wants to learn it.

COMPUTER LITERACY AND ENGLISH EDUCATION - Overcoming the Challenges
COMPUTER LITERACY AND ENGLISH EDUCATION – Overcoming the Challenges