A school with a big heart for its students


Yesterday was the official opening of the basketball court at the Royal International School Kurunegala.  This is the school that I spend most of my time, and the school is founded by the same person as Selyn; Mrs. Sandra Wanduragala. Both initiatives are managed by Sandra with the support of her family. 

However, the focus was on the opening of the basketball court for the students at RIS. The basketball court has been one of Sandra’s ambitions to provide children at the RIS with the necessary sport facilities for them to become motivated and active children. Because of Sandra’s strong ambition children are given the opportunity to develop skills such as teamwork and leadership, characteristics that are hard to educate in the classroom. 

The two teams that where invited to play at the opening; the Sinha regiment and Military Police. 


The majority of youth in Sri Lanka face the reality of an education that focus on the enrolment of students rather than the quality. This development has normalised afterschool lectures during both weeks and weekends to gain the skills needed to compete in the labour market. Therefore children in Sri Lanka have little time left to be what they are; children. 



In light of this the RIS are committed to provide high quality education as well as encourage students in a positive manner by providing the tools necessary for them to be active in different sports and other extra-curricular activities. By letting children be children and participate in healthy extra-curricular activities have also proven by research to have a positive impact on academic achievements. 

 Mrs. Sandra Wanduragala trowing the ball to start the first game ever played at the new court.  
In consideration to the limited amount of recourses and facilities for children to practise various sports in Kurunegala, this basketball court is a great achievement for children at RIS, and a day that many will remember. Hopefully there will be spilt a lot of sweat and tears on this court in the future. 



When talking with one of the employees at RIS I learned that parents and students in Sri Lanka are very exam oriented. Doing activities out side of the curriculum during school hours are hard to implement such as social activities or even internships because many parents feel that their children’s time is wasted. I find this very interesting because it partly explains the miss-match between out-of-school children and the labour demand in Sri Lanka. Working is not about getting an A on an exam it is about so much more! It’s about real life experiences and how you as a person handle different situations, and it is also about you working with something that you find interesting and how you chose to be as a person when working with other employees and the list goes on! The person I spoke to are planning to make students learn in different, more creative ways, for students to have fun and learn at the same time. I think that this is something that all educational institutions should keep in mind.  




Lucy from London

There is so much going on that I have not known what to publish. But now I am back on track and I want to share the visit we had at Selyn last week. 
Lucy from London came and it was a really interesting visit. 
Lucy is engaged in Child Action Lanka here in Sri Lanka and has been given the opportunity to travel around to the different locations where the non-profit organisation works. The organistaion workes with disadvantaged children and many of the children live and work on the streets as beggars; as such, they are often socially excluded and deprived of opportunities and respect. The organisations main focus is to provide schooling for these children to give them the opportunity to enter the emplyment sector and break the vicious cycle that they are trapped in today. Read more about Child Action Lanka here: http://www.childactionlanka.org/index.php
In doing so the organisation aims to support the children's parents when ever possible to create a sustainable livelihood for the whole family. It is in light of this that Lucy came to visit Selyn. To see how Selyn empower the disavantaged women and mothers of Kurunegala through the means of emplyment either in their homes or (as in the picture below) at weaving workshops. 



Listen to Lucy’s experience in Sri Lanka was very interesting as well as taking part of her creative mind. Lucy saw opportunities in almost everything she saw during the Selyn Tour and for me this continues to be one of my main lessons, to always try to expand your vision and see the opportunities around you. Not being stuck in a box of what should/can be done and what shouldn't/can’t.

This was a inspireing day with Lucy and we’ll see where all the ideas from this day might end up.


Lucy's own words on the Selyn Tour:
"I thoroughly enjoyed my tour around the Selyn workshops in Kuruegala- it was an exceptionally positive experience.  I am passionate about Fairtrade and the tour helped me to see first hand an example of this taking place very successfully. 

The day began at the dying plant, then to the weavers and on to the factory to see toys and other items being made. It opened my eyes to the levels of process and the skill it takes to produce the beautiful items made by the Selyn workers. Being able to see and speak with the weavers was a real highlight. They are talented women! 

I was warmly welcomed, encouraged to ask questions and take photos. I also enjoyed a delicious lunch. This made a very interesting day and I would really recommend it."


students visiting Selyn


This week, the Selyn Community got visitors from Sweden! Two students named Emma and Julia studying Environmental Science at the University of Linköping. 


Emma and Julia are in Sri Lanka to do research for their bachelor thesis with the mission to investigate “fair trade’s impact on empowerment and sustainable development”. Sponsored by SIDA through a Minor Field Study they are visiting various fair trade organisations in both Sri Lanka and India where they are conducting interviews. 


Through the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) website Emma and Julia found their way to Selyn, Sri Lanka’s only fair trade guaranteed Handloom Company. To assist them in their research we showed them around the whole Selyn fair trade production from the Dye Plant to the finished products at the Toy Factory. The girls did really appreciate being able to fallow the whole production process, because from previous experiences they have not been permitted to see the dyeing process due to unstated reasons. 


Here emma is getting a thorough explanation about what happens with the disposal from the dyeing. 


Here the girls are visiting the children at the kinder garden next to the weaving workshop, and today was our lucky day because the children were in such a good mood that they sang a song for us and were extra brave and introduced themselves in English. 
I just had to include this picture of the artisan weaving a colourful Saree. 
On the way the girls got the opportunity to interview three of the artisans at one of the weaving workshops at Selyn and later they interviewed one in the management. It was thrilling to spend the day with Emma and Julia and it was very interesting to listen to their group interview with three of the artisans. The women do not speak English so therefore an interpreter translated from Sinhala to English, but this was easier said then done. 

There was a lot that got lost in the translation because of different of reasons. Asking question that made sense from the reseachers point of view were sometimes hard for the women to comprehend or to speak up about. Moreover, it happened that the interpreter did not fully understand the question or answered question directly instead of translating the answers of the women ect. In the end it was a very complex situation and to understand the gap in knowledge between the interviewers, interviewees and the interpreter the necessary tool would have been to speak and understand Sinhala. On the other hand, it is unexpected situations like these that makes research even more interesting and fruitful, if a researcher knew the answers to his/hers questions from the beginning then research would not be very interesting nor fulfilling.  

After the interviews it was time for lunch and a couple of women at the workshop had cooked rice and curry for us. Delicious! and without forks and knifes we eat with our right-hand which most Sri Lankan people prefers to do. 
The next interview was at the Toy Factory with one in the management. 
Thank you so much girls!! It was really fun to have you here in Kurunegala and I personally enjoyed the day I got to spend with you! You know that you are allways welcome back at any time! 

Good luck with your research! Looking forward to read your conclusions when you are finished! :D 

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