Innovative Classroom

Naomi Booth :: Saturday 16th October 2021 :: This Story

Innovative Learning: Establishing a Smart Classroom in an impoverished school community.

In recent years, Ocean Stars Trust has been focusing on interventions that can support quality education provision in Sri Lanka.

This blog tells a remarkable story of how a remote secondary school in Mandoor, Eastern Sri Lanka came to have a state-of-the-art smart classroom to enable quality learning through accessing to modern interactive technology.

Project Origins

In January 2021 the OST Head of Operations received a message from the Head Teacher of Royal Hospital School (RHS), Suffolk. The Head Teacher Mr Simon Lockyer had seen the OST website and wished for the charity to establish a link with a school in Sri Lanka, for the benefit of both his own students and students of a similar age in the area in which OST operates.

The RHS, a school that cherishes links with other countries, had previously formed links with a Sri Lankan community and now sought to establish a new partnership. In a later Zoom call with the Head Teacher and two teaching colleagues Kelly Wilcock and Janine Routledge, we discussed ways in which a link with a secondary school could be established, and later developed.

Once a school in Sri Lanka had been found for this link, we asked the school Principal what his dream wish for his school would be and he said he wanted a smart classroom. A smart classroom is a digitally equipped classroom with access to a variety of teaching and learning methods through the provision of technology.

It is always fantastic when our charity finds a donor who wishes to engage with such an exciting and innovative project. A smart classroom not only revolutionises teaching in that particular school community, but also enables real school to school links between the students in the UK and Sri Lanka.

Building a Smart Classroom

Picture: /files/blog/436/w288/img-20210908-114150.jpgThe smart classroom concept was delivered during challenging circumstances. COVID-19 lockdowns caused school closures in both countries, meaning our teams had to be flexible and patient in the building process. Despite these obstacles, our thoroughly efficient Ocean Stars Lanka (OSL) team in Batticaloa, identified an appropriate school community to establish the project, procured builders and IT technicians, ensuring progress on the build was slowly made.

Shalini, OSL's Finance Manager, in consultation with the zonal education office in Batticaloa settled on a school in Mandoor called Vigneswaran Maha Vidyalayam where there was a classroom building which the school thought could be renovated, secured, and equipped with the necessary items to establish the Smart Classroom. Equally she could report on an ambitious Principal Mr Thurairasa Sabesan there who was keen to develop his teaching staff in using the new skills required. There were a few technical discussions between the technicians and us in the UK, to ensure we were purchasing the most effective equipment, and clearly, in such a country with bright sunshine, good blackout curtains were essential!

Once building work was started in July we progressed quite quickly, especially as the school was effectively closed to students because of COVID-19. The room was completed by the end of July and formally opened with local dignitaries on the 8th of September 2021.

A training session has been held for staff and a few selected students whilst schools have been closed. IT is currently being used by staff and will be used by students once school recommences mid-October.

Plans for the Smart Classroom

As OST Treasurer, I can inform you that this was a major financial investment from the RHS for an OST project, to complete the building, to purchase the ICT equipment and furniture, to provide training for the teachers to use the technology. And let us not underestimate the fact that the resulting Smart Classroom is one of very few in Eastern Sri Lanka, the poorer part of the island where OST bases most of its operations.

When fully up and running we would expect the classroom to be accessible beyond the school community for improved levels of teaching and learning for many students and facilitate direct contact between the two school communities. This will ensure the intervention is sustainable, long-term and led by the community.

OST looks forward to facilitating a fruitful ongoing link school partnership between Royal Hospital School and Vigneswaran Maha Vidyalayam.

Our Thanks

Huge thanks go to the Headteacher and staff of the Royal Hospital School, who enabled Ocean Stars Trust to complete this project, which will bring innovative teaching and learning to one particularly impoverished school community, and hopefully enrich international understanding amongst the students of RHS.


John Bunter

Ocean Stars Trust Treasurer

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