Teaching Sinhala to plantation Tamil school kids
Posted on February 17th, 2020

Courtesy NewsIn.Asia

Exam results are excellent but teacher R.M.Vasanthi feels the absence of financial rewards and job security.

Story of a Sinhalese lady who had successfully taught Sinhala to Tamil school kids

Kotagala, February 15 (DailyFt.Harmony Page): R.M. Vasanthi is a Sinhalese lady who has very successfully taught Sinhala language to Tamil school kids in Kotagala, a plantation area in Central Sri Lanka for 13 years.

Here is Vasanthi’s story in her own words: I am a Sinhalese. I teach Sinhala as a volunteer teacher at the Kotagala Tamil Maha Vidyalaya. I have been the Sinhala teacher of this school for the past three years. These Tamil children are keen learners of Sinhala as their second language and this school currently has a 100% pass out rate for Sinhala for O/L exams.”

The Kotagala Tamil Maha Vidyalaya has got the best pass rate for Sinhala in the entire Nuwara Eliya district. Our students get As and Bs for Sinhala. Only around one student per year gets C which is the lowest grade we have got for Sinhala. I am employed and paid Rs. 10,000 per month for my teaching by the School Development Society. I hardly take the two days of leave that are allocated to me per month. But if I take more than two days of leave I have to take a salary cut.”

My whole teaching experience so far is 26 years. Before being assigned to the Kotagala TMV as the Sinhala teacher, I taught Sinhala at a tea plantation estate primary school in Kotagala for 13 years. I also teach Buddhism for Sinhala Buddhist students of all grades, at the C. Sariputhra Daham Pasala in Kotagala as a volunteer teacher. I am paid Rs. 5,000 a year for this service, and given an official uniform.”

I have three children. The oldest is doing her O/L’s. My husband is a security guard at the Rosita farm in Kotagala. We do not have a house of our own. My husband works for just Rs. 600 a day just so we can stay at the small quarters given by this workplace. If he is asked to leave this job at any point, we will have to go to the streets. Who can we tell all these troubles to?”

I am trying hard to be a permanent teacher with a better salary for the work I do. I love teaching Sinhala as a second language for Tamil students and I have proven my skills as a teacher where the lowest mark the children get is a C.”

When I did my A/L in the arts stream at the St. Gabriel Balika Vidyalaya in Hatton I had to walk over eight kilometres to and from school. These are arduous plantation areas. It was with utmost difficulty that I did my schooling and as a result I could pass only one subject. My parents were labourers in the tea estates. We struggled terribly with poverty and hunger. All I want now is to be a full-time teacher with a reasonable salary.”

Over 10 years ago I sat for the competitive exam for those who want to get a permanent job as teachers. The prerequisites were that the applicant had to have a degree or be associated with a Government-related job, which I was. I passed that exam. But when I faced the final interview I did not get a permanent teaching post. I do not know why. I have made appeals to the former Government.”

I hope someone answers the pleas of people such as us. It is after braving incredible odds in life that we do our service as Sri Lankans.”

It is with great joy that I teach these Tamil children who show such a great keenness to learn the Sinhala language. I know the value of learning the languages of this country. I have studied Tamil and I interact well with these Tamil children who are committed to braving life through education.”

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