Senahasa completed building work at UMV and SGV following the devastation of the Tsunami, and decided that we could make the most of these new facilities by introducing an English Development Programme. The programme employs TEFL-qualified native English- speakers to help both local teachers and students achieve greater fluency and confidence in their use of English, thus providing students with the opportunity to pursue further education and a wider range of employment prospects.

The programme has Ministry of Education approval as one of the first of its kind in Sri Lankan state schools. Since its inception in August 2006 the programme has expanded to include four schools. Learner-centred approaches are applied at all grade- levels; for the youngest students, acquisition of basic literacy skills and natural sentence-structures facilitates the introduction of English textbook-use in Grade 3, while emphasis in the upper grades is on preparing students for O- and A-level examinations and improving communication skills. English is introduced in the classroom through drama, I.T. and other cross-curricular content, and further consolidated through much-needed after school programmes.

With a view to the sustainability of these improvements in English-language teaching, Senahasa teachers work with their local counterparts, both during and after class time, introducing ideas for more effective lessons and resource development.

The programme is being led by experienced teachers from the UK. Currently, Joan Hare is the leading the teaching team which focuses on younger children in the schools they work in. They will also help A’level students and those waiting for their O’level results. Their aim is to support the national curriculum by providing “English enrichment” alongside the current English classes.

The lead teacher is supported by four gap year volunteers from Project Trust. Hayley, Sydney, Jamie and Tom are the third group of volunteers to join the English Development Programme and will be in Sri Lanka for one year.

English Activity rooms have been set up at UMV and SGV and these provide a good environment for the children to develop their English skills. The resources have been built up over the last few years.