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The first virtual pre-school in Sri Lanka going cosmopolitan



Last year, a ‘virus ’resulted in sweeping changes to educational settings. Frustrations arose from ambiguity about what and how to deal with the circumstances that educationalists had not experienced previously.

Nevertheless, whether it is online or in person, Footsteps Preschool as an institution was required to seek appropriate and efficient methods to help develop the skills of students.

“We believe that the most significant human learning occurs from birth to five years old and taking advantage during these challenging period, we swung to action immediately. Our first thought was focused on our students, secondly our teachers, by giving them the tools to enhance their teaching method and thirdly with our parents in sharing the bond of trust. While everyone was working from home, we came together but stayed apart physically”, says Farveez Maharoof, former national cricketer and director at Footsteps Preschool.

“Unforeseen scenarios often lead to obstruction and problem-solving aptitudes that are required to weigh alternative courses for action. Creating alternatives are the resources to modify the original plan in the best ways possible, and these methods may also develop better ways of doing things”, he remarked.

The curriculum was re-looked and tweaked to support online schooling. Online teaching requires numerous tasks to be accomplished in various phases of planning, implementation, and reflection. Creativity, Critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are continuously a prerequisite no matter whether the lesson is taught in a classroom or online. Online methodology and learning at Footsteps preschool have been a success from day one to date. Many months of regular teaching through a play based, hands on and interactive approach has been highly effective making sure our students haven’t missed out on their developmental milestones, he said.

Online education became the ‘NEW NORM ‘as a result of the pandemic. Following these circumstances, online teaching and learning had an indispensable role in early childhood education programs, although debates remain on whether or not it is beneficial for young children to be exposed extensively to Computers, Mobiles and Tabs. With utmost priority to heath concerns and circumstances, all our online sessions are scheduled between forty to sixty minutes depending on the activities, he added.

The preschool has a studentship of 100 with 70% from Sri Lanka and the rest from Maldives, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Vietnam and Japan.

“We have also had international registrations in the past from Australia, Qatar and Oman who have now transcended to Primary Education in their respective countries. Our global reach via online education is reaching recognition and acceptance”, Maharoof stressed.

Therefore, it is an additional task for teachers to reflect on children’s individual differences, besides their developmental levels. Once children are logged in, our teachers manage each child’s diverse needs, cogitate their learning styles, character, and interests, he further said.

Though, online teaching does limit the number of interactions that are possible with children, our teachers capitalize on the value of their communications and language with each child and create a happy social environment to encourage children’s participation, he added.

Directresses Mrs. Razana Muzni & Mrs. Fazra Irfan commented, “Although the pandemic was unexpected, swelled fast, affected all and created disorder, we were able to face the challenge and moved ahead with confidence, to create a success story for years to remember. The preschool stands tall and proud. Many valuable lessons have been learnt during these trying times. Children learn best through play and concentrate when they can be active through hands-on activities. We may not be able revert to teaching and learning in the same ways as we did prior to the pandemic or to provide the same types of environments and activities as we can implement in a classroom.

“Hence, it is imperative to think ahead so that we can design and consider limitations that we may face in the future. It is essential to provide teachers with opportunities and skills for online teaching, including interacting with children through this medium, and also have kids reflect about how best they stimulate progress and learning using online tools”.

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MP’s wife, father-in-law among three detained



Rishad held under PTA to be questioned

16-year-old girl’s death:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police investigating the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, the domestic servant at All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Baudhaloka Mawatha residence have arrested Ayesha Shiabdeen, 46, the wife of the former minister.

Police also took into custody Rishad’s father-in-law Mohammed Shiabdeen, 70, and Ponnaiah Pandaram alias Shankar, 64, a resident of Dayagama.

Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said that Shankar had brought Ilashini from Dayagama to the Baudhaloka Mawatha residence of Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Vanni District lawmaker late last year.

Having studied the post postmortem report, they were taken into custody in terms of Section 360 C and Section 308 B of the Penal Code that dealt with human trafficking and cruelty to children, the top police officer said. According to him, so far 20 statements had been recorded.

Asked whether MP Bathiudeen, too, had been among the questioned, Senior DIG Rohana said the parliamentarian detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, too, would be interrogated in that regard.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. It switched its allegiance to the SJB ahead of 2020 general election after having represented the cabinet in UNP led yahapalana administration. Rishad has also served President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet during his second term.

Having suffered serious burn injuries on July 3 at the MP’s residence and admitted to the National Hospital, Illashini succumbed to her injuries on July 15th. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped over a period of time.

The police spokesman said that they intended to secure court approval to detain the suspects for 72 hours. A Superintendent of Police could obtain such approval on the strength of a B report submitted to the court in respect of offenses on children.

Although, the police indicated earlier in the day they would be produced in Colombo Magistrate court they weren’t brought in.

Meanwhile, the SJB said that interested parties were making a despicable attempt to politicize the incident. The police should be allowed to conduct the investigation without interference, a spokesman for the main Opposition party said.


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Women’s organisations in North conduct protests demanding justice for Ilashini



A section of those engaged in Jaffna protests


By Dinasena Ratugamage

Women’s organisations in the North yesterday held a number of demonstrations in Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna against the death of J. Ilashini, the 16 -year-old girl who died while working at SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence.

The protesters urged authorities to ensure that investigations into the death are conducted in a transparent manner. The family of the victim should be compensated and those guilty punished, they said.

Representatives of the organisations said that if justice was not done, they would hold a massive demonstration in Tarapuram, Mannar, which Bathiudeen represents in Parliament.

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Dancer lodges complaint with police over FB post 



Police headquarters yesterday (23) said that dancer Anusha Damayanthi had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a Facebook post alleging that she was running a brothel.

Police headquarters said that Damayanthi, while denying the accusation, had also brought to the CID’s notice that a minister was being accused of lambasting the Walana anti-crime strike force for carrying out the raid. Police said that an investigation was underway.

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