“I haven’t followed any course at any institution in this style. This is something new. We improved a lot here. This is what we need for our community to bring changes to uplift our life status” says Mr. Raviram – an IT teacher in a Government school and one of the students at Skills Learning Centre in Bandarawela, Sri Lanka.
Student-centered learning process including many activities and games, role-plays and club activities are the keys for the above statement. Skills Learning Centre is the first BOOKBRIDGE learning center in Sri Lanka, initiated on 9th June 2016. Being the first learning center for Sri Lanka, it has a responsibility to lay a strong foundation for the future BOOKBRIDGE learning center network. This is not a tough task for Skills Learning Center since it has a strong backing from its GMP+3 team and the entire Bridge Builders community.
Six months ago, everyone in the BOOKBRIDGE team had a question in mind, how and where this learning center would going to be initiated, since at that period the Head of Learning Centre, Sujitha Miranda, was hunting for a suitable location and was struggling with selections. Later in June 2016, when her GMP+3 teammates arrived, all the questions were undoubtedly cleared when they saw the large center painted with the BOOKBRIDGE theme and colour, orange. With the grand opening, the untiring marketing efforts of the GMP+3 team and the pre & post media coverage, Skills Learning Centre was able to reach not only in to the Bandarawela Community but also to the whole Badulla district communities.
The learning center began its operations on June 15 but the classes commenced on June 25 with only 23 students. Gradually, the number of students increased. Today, Skills Learning Centre operates with 70 Students and 9 Library Membership holders. The noteworthy feature of this learning center is that most students came to via word-of-mouth. This was achieved only as the result of the unique teaching methods followed in this center.
Skills Learning Centre offers Spoken English, Personality Development, Life Skill development and IT courses. Sujitha plans for some language and skill development course in the near future. A variety of students, starting from kids to adults, young professional and parents are following the courses.
All the courses are conducted in a student-centered learning process. Students engage in group activities, role-plays, debates, speeches and listening. Laptops and tablet PCs are used in every learning session. Every class has a laptop permanently kept. Students explore knowledge using the modern technology. Television with more than 50 world channels is available in the class. Children can watch good English TV programmes until the class session begins.
Word of the day, Build a story and Round Robin are some of the special sessions students love to join:
Word of the day: This is one of the effective methods to teach new words to the student. Each student brings a new word to the class with pronunciation, meaning and example sentence. Then he shares this in the class.
Build Stories: When the teacher starts a story with a small incident, students has to build and continue the story one after other. This improves the spontaneous thinking ability.
Round Robin: One student starts to talk about a small incident. After one minute, the next one has to continue the discussion with the word the previous one stopped at. Each one has to speak for one minute. This practice helps the students build their speaking ability.
Club Activities: Speaking Club and Social Awareness Club
The adult students engage in club activities too. They form a speaking club and social awareness club. The speaking club gets together once a month and conducts special debating sessions. The awareness club members meet once a week and speak about the educational issues they see in the rural communities. Once a month they organize field trips to find out rural educational problems.
The GMP+3 team members join the classroom sessions and organize monthly calls to strengthen the learning center. With the continuous backing of the team, Skills Learning Centre is striding forward towards its vision – Make your future shine.