BrighterBee 3600 is the signature project for the year 2020 – 2021 organized by the Rotaract Club of Colombo Mid Town improving education standards for the less privileged. In other words, this is the baby of community service avenue in the club.
To promote this concept, the club has chosen a school in a rural village called Ilukpitiya, Deniyaya that has limited facilities and poor infrastructure with the aim of developing the school’s infrastructure holistically and creating a sustainable environment for better learning. The Ilukpitiya Kanishta Vidyalaya currently accommodates 170 students from grades 1 to 11. The students are from a low-income earning economic background with all of their guardians or parents being daily wage-earners.
On the 26th of July early morning, we left Colombo heading towards Deniyaya to conduct a need survey in the school. After a 3 hours drive, we reached the school. As per the information we received, we witnessed that the existing infrastructure resources of the school is in a poor state as they have limited classroom space. From grades 5 to 9, they had only one large common classroom and no room at all for grade 11 to carry out their usual school lessons. The whole structure has never been renovated after it was first built, which was way back in 1964. The existing roofing structure of the school is on the verge of completely collapsing as it has some serious damages due to corrosion. Whenever it rains the students are not able to carry on with their usual lessons with the rainwater leakages. The School’s sanitary facilities were also not sufficient as there were only 5 toilets for the whole school including the staff and 170 students. The School’s library is one small room with an adjoining sick room which is enclosed using cloth material as separators. The library has a handful of books that mostly consists of used textbooks which is a part of their curriculum. The school has a decently sized playground however the students have absolutely no equipment at all and they do not practice any sports during or after school hours. After the need survey, we envisioned taking ownership of the renovation of the infrastructure of the school in multiple phases.
For the second phase, we went back to the school on the 04th of October to conduct a seminar targeting the grade 5 scholarship examination which was held on the 10th of October. With the participation of over 50 students including the students from two schools nearby, the seminar was conducted by a renowned grade 5 teacher from Matara. During the same time, we were able to carry out a counseling session for parents to advise the importance of education and how they can assist their kids for education with the support from an officer from the Zonal Education office. At the end of the seminar, we distributed a stationary pack for each student as well. Afterward, we did not forget to visit the glamorous Patna waterfall to spend some leisure time and slide through the water after a long day before heading back to Colombo.
After partnering up with many donors, we started renovating the roofs in the school as the third phase. The most crucial building was the main building as its condition was worst and it was accommodating students from grades 5 to 19. Hence, we started the renovation with the school main building roof and then we renovated grade 1, 2 and 10 classroom roofs as well. With the support from villagers, we completely replaced the roofing wood structure and asbestos sheets of all these three buildings within a period of one month.
With the beginning of the 2021 new year, the next biggest pain point for this school was the lack of classroom facility for grade 11 as this year was the first time that the school has students for grade 11. As the fourth phase, on the 14 of February, we started construction to build a 400sqft classroom building from scratch to develop a comfortable learning environment for grade 11 students. During the period of construction, the grade 11 students were studying inside the library and under a tree due to the lack of classroom facilities. Finally, during the month of May, we successfully completed the classroom constructions and handed them over to these deserving children despite the difficulties we faced due to travel restrictions and all with the Covid 19 pandemic.
We are currently engaging with the fifth phase where we are building a scholarship program for each student of this school to cover their annual academic expenses with a donation of Rs. 12,000 that covers the cost of their commute, stationary, food and other expenses combined.
For the upcoming phases, we have made plans to solve the areas of sanitary facilities, drinking water facilities, sports equipment facilities and academic & non-academic assistance to make these children succeed in their school education with flying colors.
Education brings stability to life which no one can ever take away from you. We, Rotaract Club of Colombo Mid Town would strongly provide our maximum effort to bring stability to the lives of these students in Ilukpitya Vidyalaya, Deniyaya.