Separating primary schools from larger schools is an impossiblity? Not so, if you move away from the power orbits of the super schools. Behind the scenes, a few dedicated officials are trying to separate primary schools from popular schools in a set of 150 low income education divisions. The goal is develop at least one larger school in each division as a well equipped secondary school that attract children from a cluster of neighboring primary schools. The program is called Isuru and the director of the program is Mr. Piyasena. I had a chance to talk to Mrs. Padmini Wijesinghe, the zonal director for Matugama, about the progress of the Isuru program in her zone.
There are four pradeshiya divisions in the Matugama zone. The zone has identified four larger schools that are to be developed as first-rate secondary schools (agra-ganayea-paasala) in each division. A key step in the process is the reallocation of students hoping to start grade-1 in these larger schools to a designated primary school in the neighborhood. The potential first-rate secondary school and the one or more primary schools for each division are as follows:
Division/ Proposed first-rate secondary school/Feeder Primary school
Matugama/Ananada Sastralaya/Ananada Primary, Dharamaraja Location
Agalawatte/Mihindu Maha Vidyalaya/Dapiligoda Primary
Wallallawita/Iththapana Kolvin R de Silva Vidyalaya/Uthuru Iththapana Sri Saranankara Primary
Palinda Nuwara/Kamburawala Maha Vidyalaya/Wathurana Sri Saraswathi Vidyalaya and Magura Primary
If the program is able to continue, witihn the next four years all primary grades will be moved away from the designated secondary schools. The children in primary grades closer to home with the assurance that they can move to a good secondary school when they finsh Grade 5.
Mrs. Wijesignhe is confident it can be done but the community needs to take ownership of these initiaitve and help the officials. For example, the Wathuwana school was in no shape to absorb the children from the Kamburwala Maha vidyalaya but the villagers rose to the occasion and made the school habitable. The villagers are yet to pay some Rs: 5000 for the village hardware store and Mrs. Wijesinghe is holding onto those receipts hoping to find a donor from the larger community.
Pragati Foundation which I represent will do what it can to make the experiment successful in Matugama. If you hail from the area or something and want to give a hand to these deidcated officials call Mrs. Wijesinghe at 034-224-8107 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.