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Home-based distance learning in Sri Lanka from August

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The Education Reforms, Open Universities, and Distance Learning Promotion State Ministry and the National Institute of Education (NIE) have planned to commence a home-based learning programme which is scheduled to be implemented covering all the provinces, from 2 August 2021.

This move comes in the backdrop of the ongoing teachers’ strike over, among others, the lack of facilities for teachers to conduct online teaching activities and for students to engage in online learning activities.

When contacted by The Morning, Education Reforms, Open Universities, and Distance Learning Promotion State Ministry Secretary Dr. Upali Sedara said that the relevant programme is expected to commence on 2 August, covering all schools throughout the country. He also said that the initial portion of the activities to be given to students through the programme would be finalised by 18 July.

He noted that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of programmes such as “Gurugedara”, “E-Thaksalawa”, and YouTube channels have been introduced at the national and provincial levels to facilitate online education for students, but that it is unclear how many students would be educated through those methods. The home-based learning programme is therefore being implemented with the aim of formulating a formal programme for students to engage in distance learning, he elaborated.

However, it is learnt that online education will continue with this home-based programme which is meant to iron out the regional discrepancies in the conduct of online education so that uniformity would ensue across the board.

Explaining the objectives of the said programme, Dr. Sedara noted: “No matter how many methods are currently in operation, there may still be students who do not have the adequate facilities to study through them. Accordingly, we hope to provide equal access to education to all students with the support of all the relevant officials, including provincial and zonal directors of education, principals, and teachers.”

According to him, from 2 August to the end of this year, a series of weekly activities will be provided to students in each grade, and the relevant activities will be made available in print copies, in as many copies as possible. He further added that the activities that would be given for students in Grades 10, 11, 12, and 13 would be aimed at the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level (O/L) and Advanced Level (A/L) examinations. He also said that it is hoped to cover the entire curriculum through these activities.

“This can be considered a rapid learning approach. The activities currently being prepared by the NIE to be given to students are expected to be finalised by 18 July, and they will be examined by a standardisation committee and distributed to the provincial directors of education. They would then print them and send them to the zonal education offices,” Dr. Sedara further explained.

According to Dr. Sedara, the activities will then be distributed to the principals through the zonal education offices, after which, the teachers would distribute them to the students. Dr. Sedara emphasised that the activities completed each week should be handed over by the students to the teachers every Friday and that the teachers would then mark them and maintain the relevant records and reports. These records and reports will in turn be forwarded to the zonal education offices through the principals, and finally to the provincial education offices.

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