Our Story: why we started Nenathambara
There are schools in various areas of Sri Lanka that do not have adequate support and guidance to make the improvements necessary to facilitate a proper IT education for students. Our objective is to provide the necessary physical resources as well as extra curricular learning resources, and to provide systematic training to teachers and other resource people. In the long run, we seek to improve people's understanding of technology.
One of our main activities is to create online courses for students in Sinhala and Tamil, to learn programming, electronics and using microcontrollers, developing both conceptual knowledge as well as practical skills which they can use to solve simple problems and as a stepping stone for more sophisticated studies. We have already launched a course for the basics of programming (the Sinhala version is online and the Tamil version is under construction. Consider volunteering) and are currently developing a second course in programming as well as a course for arduino and electronics. We develop these assuming simple prerequisites, with much thought on pedagogy that even students grade 7 and above can learn and master the material and skills. This is accessible free of charge to anyone.
We also train teachers, conducting webinars and seminars, helping them to learn and master these skills. We also provide them with support to deliver our curricula to their students in classroom settings.
With the current state of Covid we have temporarily stopped our other activities but will restart these as soon as conditions improve. This is mostly to do with the improvement of physical resources in schools.
As an initial project, we have scouted out four schools in the Anuradhapura district, where a resource input would enhance the level of IT education in the area. In the process we have observed a number of other problems that can be solved with little extra work that would benefit these institutions greatly. We will paint a detailed picture of the current situation at these schools and what we hope to achieve.
The schools were picked based on several criteria. Primarily the IT facilities are either non existent, outdated or are insufficient to cater to the student population. The schools we have picked have a dedicated cohort of teachers led by able Principals, who are directing their efforts, to improve the level of education received by the students in their schools. Moreover, there is a parent body who has a keen interest in improving these facilities which is important for the project to have a long term effect. Past donors to these schools have also come forward in helping us with certain parts of the project, but one of the major tasks at hand is to raise the funding that we need. We will be able to monitor the project and provide continuous guidance in any maintenance and improvements with the aid of these stakeholders.