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Mar 04th
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Home Feature Stories Great Love After Asia Tsunami A New School For Hambantota - National caliber

A New School For Hambantota - National caliber

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National caliber
The second phase of Tzu Chi's involvement in Siribopura was inaugurated on January 5, 2008 14 months after the residential portion of the Great Love Village was completed. Residents of the greater resettlement project, students, and government officials put on their best clothes and arrived at the opening ceremony in motorized trishaws, school buses, and official vehicles. The Tzu Chi Village brimmed with vitality as guests poured in and crowded the compound.

W. G. Chandrasiri, the principal of Beralihela K. V. School, arrived at the gathering with her daughter, a student at the Tzu Chi school. "It feels comfortable and classy," said Chandrasiri, impressed with the new school.

Tzu Chi National School has attracted much attention since its establishment as a middle school, comprised of both junior and senior high sections. It was originally designated a "county-level" school, but it was soon elevated to a "provincial-level" school because of its excellent learning and teaching facilities. After an inspection by the minister of education and the minister of ports and civil aviation, the school was upgraded again, this time to its current national status. The name of the school was changed to Tzu Chi National School to reflect this high status.

Chamal Rajapaksha, the minister of ports and civil aviation, remarked that Tzu Chi National School was one of the two most prestigious NGO-built schools in southern Sri Lanka. He implored the students, faculty, and staff to cherish and support the school, and he encouraged them to make it an outstanding institution. "A school of this caliber is significant for the less developed south," he said. "It is my hope that the best students in the area will willingly forego the opportunity to attend elite schools in Colombo and instead attend Tzu Chi National School. This will help stem the outflow of the south's human capital and help develop the local economy."

After its inauguration, Tzu Chi handed over the school to the government for administration. The school's principal, N. Weerasooriya, knows that the top-notch physical environment is capable of supporting a superior educational institution. He feels a responsibility to guide the school to its full potential, which is nothing short of the best.

Admission priority is given to tsunami survivors who live in the Great Love Village. The school provides scholarships to attract bright students to fill the remaining openings. Along with the standard high school curriculum, students are offered such courses as music, dancing, and sports.

The school actively recruits qualified teachers. Administrators seek not only the best students for the school, but the most dedicated teachers as well. "We pay special attention to discipline for both the teachers and students," Weerasooriya said. "For example, our program includes teachers' in-service training days, scout courses, and some basic courses on military training. We admire how Tzu Chi runs its schools in Taiwan. We hope to establish exchange programs with them for teachers and administrators."

Inspiring new hope
Two days before the school opened, classroom desks and chairs arrived in four freight containers from across the ocean, donated by Tzu Chi volunteers in Malaysia. Tzu Chi volunteers in Sri Lanka mobilized villagers to unload and assemble the furniture for the classrooms.

S. A. Siriyalata, 50, was one of the volunteers helping that day. She rounded up 15 other villagers to help. She said that her home had been wiped out by the tsunami, but that she and her two children were fortunate to have moved into a new home in the Great Love Village. Now the new school for her children was also completed. "My children can attend school here, and so can their children. Tzu Chi has given us a lot. We are really happy!"

Sarifa Zakia, 12, also lived in the Great Love Village. She came with her mother and grandparents to help. Tzu Chi National School was bigger and nicer than her former school. She talked with excitement about the new school: "There are desks, chairs, electric fans, and lights, all of which make me feel hopeful." She played to her heart's content on campus, but took her education very seriously. A rising seventh grader who liked English and math, she had originally wanted to be a teacher, but now she was setting her sights on becoming a medical doctor. "I want to help the poor," she said.


" Continue even when it is hard to go on, release even when it is hard to let go, endure even when it is hard to bear; this is how we build our character. "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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