Wednesday, 24 November 2010

About AdoptSriLanka

I realise that I've told you very little about AdoptSriLanka, the organisation I volunteer with, so this is my attempt at remedying that. They have a website ( where, with a bit of hunting, you can discover more, but I'll give you a brief summary. By the way, the website is not great but a replacement is being developed as we speak!

ASL was established in response to the devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It was involved with the rebuilding of affected homes and, critically, schools in the south of Sri Lanka. As time passed the needs changed and it evolved so that now the major project is TWINS - a scheme to promote the learning of English in schools through cultural exchange with schools abroad. Funding for ASL's small team comes from various sources including the founder, Geoffrey Dobbs, a local businessman, and his friends and associates. ASL works with 80 mostly rural schools which are split almost equally between the two offices in Galle and Tangalle. I work in the Tangalle office with the TWINS Manager, Jo, and two Field Officers. Bec, the manager, is in the main Galle office, along with the accountant, Special Projects Officer, Logistics Manager, and two more Field Officers.

TWINS sets up long-term, meaningful connections between schools. The connections are maintained by the four Sri Lankan field officers who keep in constant communication with the local schools. The cultural exchange takes the form of projects, penpal letters, skype chats and more, and the field officers also help with mailing, printing, copying and delivering. The British Council occasionally fund reciprocal visits between the Sri Lankan and foreign teachers. On top of that, the Special Projects Officer coordinates children's events, teacher training workshops, conferences and a programme of teachers' professional development. So, as well as investing in the children, ASL also invests in the teachers. The children here and abroad both benefit through the cultural connections, and the local children also improve their language skills through meaningful dialogues.

My role is to work with the teachers by giving them training in the use of computers. The idea is that by building teachers' confidence, they'll be able to boost their own development and improve students' learning through use of resources on the Web. They'll be able to communicate electronically through email, Skype, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs...). And, instead of using the field officers to write and send emails, edit photos, burn CDs and so on, they'll be able to do all that themselves using any existing computers in schools, or Internet cafés, or by coming into ASL's Tangalle office.

I do enjoy working with the teachers immensly but I found I was missing working with children (something I'd done previously in India) so I've been taking a bit of time out from ASL to help with spoken English at a small local Muslim school.

That's it in a nutshell! If you want to find out more about the twinning programme or are interested in the projects that the schools undertake then take a look at the ASL TWINS page. ASL are keen to partner up more schools so if you're a teacher and want to add a global dimension to your teaching, please get in touch!


  1. Hi Clive,

    I've been reading through your blog, your previous posts and I have to say that what you're doing is really inspirational. For all of us who take technology for granted it´s very revealing to see how you go about teaching the teachers and preparing them for a new reality.

    I think that what is clear is how much of a reflective educator you are. And at the end of the day, this, alongside a great deal of hardwork as well, is what brings about change and means something to a learner (kids & adults).

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Loved the pictures of your students - they do look so very special!

  2. Hi Valéria,

    I'm really pleased to have your comments! It's quite a boost to have someone I don't know drop by and say that they like what I've written - it makes it even more worthwhile!

    I hope I _am_ a reflective educator - I do try to learn from my experiences. Yesterday, for instance, when teaching a more mature teacher how to use a web browser, I learnt that I shouldn't say "Go to Home" - she thought I was telling her to leave the class! It'll be "click on the Home button" from now on!

    Yes, those children are very special to me, and growing more so by the day. Their enthusiasm is infectious and they're a delight to work with.

    Thanks again,