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British Council and CBB celebrate 15 years of teacher training project

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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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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7

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By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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