Donation of books for the school library was held on the 13th Morning at the school premises with the participation of all the teachers, students and our team. The books were officially handed over to the Principal and the students by Mr Nishan Jinasena & team members at the ceremony. Mr Principal addressed the people and mentioned about the specialty of this initiatives in building the next generation. In fact he extend his heartiest gratitude to Dr Tissa Jinasena for his invaluable involvement to the school for the development of the students.
After the inaugural meeting, the team visited the library as to understand the prevailing condition of its operations. Reading practices of the students have been aligned with their class education strategically in giving marks based on the number of books they refer during a term and the evaluation of knowledge they gain from the reading. The efforts and the results of the reading practices of the students are rewarded quarterly in terms of strengthening the effort up to a habit which would last the impact with the students. A special register is maintained by the librarian as to monitor students reading. They clearly maintain inventories of library assets and the books will be inventoried in due course.
The information collected through interviews
The team visited several households and had interviews with villagers in order to get information regarding various aspects on villagers.
Diganegama is located in Anuradapura district as a very remote village under the Divisional Secretariat of Central Nuwaragam Province. It is about 17 kilometers away from Anuradhapura town and the access to the village has been fallen via Oyamaduwa, Thanthirimale road. Basically there are four peripheral villages namely Diganegama, Madurupitiya, Ihala Pusiyankulama and Ralapanawa from which the school get her children. There are about sixty (60) households in all four villages which have been connected to the school by sending their children for education.
The main livelihood of the community is agriculture and basic crops are found to be paddy and other crops relating to chena cultivation, basically all cultivations are at the consumption level
without gaining much commercial value other than few crops like grain, pumpkin…etc. The paddy cultivation for Yala season has been neglected by the farmers due to drought and they are helpless even to find food for their families as rest of the communities in the district. In fact most of the farmers have lands in which they do vegetables and other crops only a few have paddy lands.
Trap of loans form buyers
Since the farmers get loans for seeds, chemical & fertilizer from the buyers, as usual they have to settle the loan after reaping the harvest without any useful gain so that the condition of their lives will be remaining same over and over again. The problem which has been occurred was the poor financial ability to purchase seeds, chemical & fertilizer for the next season. Generally every farmer has at least two acers of land and they need money to have seeds, chemical & fertilizer around Rs 15,000 to 20,000 for a season. In fact some of the villagers are connected with group loan systems promoted by some of individuals to get loans with higher interest rates and now have got in to hick ups without paying back.
Though this issue has been controlled to a certain extent among the villagers, still significant number of cases are reported. This has been affected worse in general as peaceful & supportive environment is lost for students to study enthusiastically. In addition, comparatively a large amount of money is wasted monthly which can be transferred in to productive activities in the family. Not only among the adults, some of youngsters in the village have addicted in to various kind of drugs and alcohol according to the information got from the villagers.
Diganegama tank is located in a closer proximity to the school and also some other small tanks are available in the village as dried playgrounds without water during a long period. The damaged channel system which cannot provide water supply for agricultural lands seems to be reconstructed for effective utilization.
Wholesome drinking water is rare as the good water sources are not adequately available in the village as similar as the other areas in the district. Ground water level varies from 30 feet to 150 feet in the villages but still hard to find good water sources. Testing of water sources in the land may cost around Rs 25,000 so that villages do not tend to go for it. Currently villagers get water from private water suppliers and comparatively it is difficult for villagers to afford the daily expenses on water.
Background - Diganegama School
The school is the only relief for the poor villagers to educate their children as it is at their vicinity. Currently ninety two (92) students are studding at the school whereas twelve teachers are
currently serving along with the principal Mr M Gunapala who is also from the same community. Diganegama School has the facility to provide education from grade 1 to grade 11
The school was commenced in 1954 and it was about to close by 2000 due to the decision of the government to close down schools which have no adequate students to run. But however, the principal has been able to continue the service of the school for the poor community as this is the only source of education for the students of this poor village.
Assistance for students from Nanasaviya
The principal has made some strategic moves to attract students by providing stationary and other needs under “Nanasaviya Foundation” which has been established according to his idea. This foundation provides the basic educational requirements for the students as an additional support to the poor parents as they come from very low economical background. In addition to above assistance, all the students are provided meals by the foundation.
Additional educational assistance is provided for selected students from 6.30a.m to 7.30a.m in the morning before the school commencement and after school classes are conducted for the entire students from 2.00p.m to 4.00p.m by the dedicated teachers. The performance of the school has come over 75% in the examinations.
Poor students who attend the school from distant villages are provided with bicycles by the school as an assistance for transport difficulties. In addition, ongoing supervision & direction of the principal for students to govern their lives are on place both in and out of the school.
Development aspects in the school and the village can be planned in the proposal that will be completed in due course.
Some photographs of book donation at the school.