Cultivating a Love for English
A SIF-Jaffna Public Library collaboration will uplift the quality of English Language teaching and library outreach services - all geared towards enhancing the English communication skills of 3,000 Jaffna youths.
Angeline Veronikka, 14, wears a shy smile as she reads out loud, an English story she crafted about what she and her friends look forward to during their weekly visits to the Jaffna Public Library, while Mr Reganathan and Mr Jeganathan, both Singapore International Volunteers (SIV) look on encouragingly. Angeline was practising the technique of “brainstorming” (a training aimed at strengthening participants’ writing, listening and speaking competencies), something she had learnt during an English Language workshop conducted by the two SIVs.
At the end of her presentation, Angeline was given a ‘thumbs up’ by her teachers, and she proudly declared that “-It is good for me to practise English and I will work harder to learn new words, new vocabulary”. Such quiet confidence was exactly what both SIVs had sought to instil.
Over the next 12 months, English Language specialist volunteers from Singapore will be sharing contemporary learning methods and student assessment tools with Jaffna teachers to uplift the quality of English Language teaching in 38 secondary and high schools around Jaffna. Their efforts will impact 3,000 youths aged between 10 and 18 years. The year-long capacity building project the SIF is undertaking, also involves training librarians at the Jaffna Public Library in creating community outreach activities in English, further fostering an engaging learning environment.
To realise this community development programme, SIF brought together Singaporeans specialist volunteers, members of the Ceylon Tamil community in Singapore, Singapore businesses and institutions – to work in partnership with the Jaffna Public Library to effect positive changes in the lives of youths in Jaffna, a reflection of our mission to bring world communities together to do good.
Both Reganathan and Jeganathan, who are experienced educators and have taught English to numerous non-native speakers around South East Asia, were happy that their efforts would enrich the lives of youths living in the Jaffna region.
“Jaffna’s Tamil people have always had a deep desire to excel in education. This desire was clearly evident during the training we conducted for both the teachers and students,” said Renganathan.
Similarly, Jeganathan was compelled to contribute to the learning journey of his new found friends in Sri Lanka as he is convinced that better-trained English Language teachers will be equipped to effectively motivate their students in improving their English communication proficiencies. Explaining further he says, “English is the language of international commerce, a gateway to knowledge and a door to higher learning opportunities and would be key to empowering Jaffna’s future generations. My wish is that our efforts will create a ripple effect within the community – more effective English lessons in Jaffna schools, youths sharing their English skills with their families and ultimately inspiring more youths to strive to be their own change-makers”.
Improved access to English educational materials and facilities were also created to facilitate learning. This was done through the donation of a mobile library by Modern Montessori International, refurbishment of Jaffna Public Library's Youth Section sponsored by the Singapore Ceylon Tamils' Association and the National Library Board, Singapore’s donation of 10,000 English books.
“This sponsorship of the mobile library is an extension of MMI’s global CSR efforts to encourage reading among children in Jaffna. We are confident that this worthy effort will go a long way in providing greater access to books and learning opportunities among the less privileged children. We strongly believe in giving back to society in a meaningful way and that no child should be deprived of learning whatever his or her social background,” says Dr T Chandroo, Chairman and CEO of Modern Montessori International Group (MMI) and Chairman of the Association of Early Childhood and Training Services (ASSETS) in Singapore.
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