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British Council and CBB celebrate 15 years of teacher training project



The British Council celebrated the long- running CBB English Language Teacher Training Project at a ceremony at the Ministry of Education recently.

The project, which has been running since 2005, draws to a close this year. It grew out of six weekend workshops around the country and developed into the annual delivery of English language teacher training to approximately 200 English language teachers nationwide.

More than 2,000 teachers have been trained through this project impacting on over 310,000 pupils. The course is a distance teacher training program with study sessions run by the trainers at the 31 RESCs (Regional English Support Centres) across the country leading up to the University of Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test.

Speakers at the event included Professor K. Kapila C. K. Perera, Secretary to the Minister of Education, Ms Roshanie Moraes, CBB President, British High Commissioner, Sarah Hulton and Ms. Louise Cowcher, Director Education and English, British Council.

The project was not able to have its annual awards ceremony because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Instead the Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test and British Council teacher training certificates were given to the teachers at their RESCs. A collage of photographs taken during these smaller ceremonies were displayed at the event. The RESC mentors attended were given certificates for their work on the project.

The publication, A Celebration of the CBB Teacher Training Project: 2005-2020 – Case Studies from across the country by the Council for Business with Britain (CBB) and the British Council, was launched at the event. The project’s legacy is the cadre of trainers and teachers it created who then impacted on hundreds of thousands of pupils. This publication is a collection of their personal stories.

Their stories show children becoming more confident in their use of English and becoming more motivated to use the language. Teachers also cited the increase in their pupil marks in end of term tests and in O and A levels. The case studies clearly illustrated the move from teacher to student centred classrooms and a corresponding increase in teacher and student confidence.

The event also showcased this year’s addition to the project in the form of an employability poster competition. Teachers on the project worked with their classes to produce a poster on a topic connected to employability. These posters were shortlisted by the RESCs, then by the British Council, and the finalists were selected by members of the CBB committee. The winning teachers whose classes submitted the successful posters received their awards. The posters were on display at the event and also included in the case study publication.

Roshanie J. Moraes, President, CBB, said “this was CBB’s contribution to upskilling the future workforce of Sri Lanka in the English Language and we are extremely proud to have positively impacted a large number of teachers and students through this in the last 15 years. We hope the teachers and the mentors take this program forward and engage in continuous development and continue to serve our society”.

Mark Prothero, CEO of HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives, the principal sponsor, emphasized the importance of the project, saying, “The importance of developing English literacy skills is a highly-topical and necessary national debate. It is important for the learning community, in particular the teachers, to foster a generation of students who can use the language as a base in their future careers. HSBC has been the principal sponsor of this project since 2006 and we are very proud of what we have achieved with the program.”

Louise Cowcher, Director Education and English of the British Council said, “This has been a key project in supporting young people develop their language skills, which is vital for enhancing their employability.

“Over the lifespan of the project 2,352 teachers have developed their professional skills to internationally benchmarked standards with the benefits passed on to approximately 310,400 secondary students. This is indeed an achievement to celebrate with CBB and the Ministry of Education!”

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents



Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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