Race for Education - Demonstrating Social Responsibility

Demonstrating Social Responsibility
அன்ன சத்திரம் ஆயிரம் வைத்தல்
ஆலயம் பதினாயிரம் நாட்டல்
பின்னருள்ள கருமங்கள் யாவும்
பெயர் விளங்கி ஒளிர நிறுத்தல்
அன்ன யாவினும் புண்ணியம் கோடி
ஆங்கோர் ஏழைக்கு எழுத்தறிவித்தல் - பாரதியார்
Provision of literacy to the poor is million times more meritorious than founding thousands of soup kitchens or the building of ten thousand temples or the setting up of great charities that proclaim their name and fame - Maha Kavi
This is how Maha Kavi values education. He saw the provision of education to the poor as a mean to establishing an enduring social justice system as it would bring them up the social fabric thus empowering them to take over the responsibilities of the new social order. Interaction nurtured at school is a binding force among school pals that helps preserve the cultural values and moral principles gained while being young. What was inherited at school makes it possible for us to take on social responsibility in later life. Irrespective of our individual achievements, as old school boys or girls, it is pay back time for us as we were so fortunate to have good schooling.
Every student benefitted from the free education system prevalent in Sri Lanka and hence bears the social responsibility of passing on this legacy to the generations that follow. It is significant that 80% of the indirect taxes contributed by every citizen irrespective of their income status go to the pot set aside for free education. Therefore, as students of the past, it is imperative that in some way we contribute to the social and economic well-being of our communities.
Jaffna Hindu College’s history shows, we have always had the culture of Social Responsibility embedded in us. A good example is the long list of past students and teachers who have contributed immensely for the betterment of the Tamil society for the past 125 years.
Every student leaves JHC empowered with the knowledge and practical skills to make a positive social and economic impact in their professional and personal lives.
In 2015, group of JHC 92 (A/L) batch UK, upon the request of educationists, initiated a program - “Race for Education” - with the support of JHC OBA UK, to demonstrate their “Social Responsibility”.  This program is to continue for the year 2016 with JHC 92 old boys joining hands from the cities of Melbourne, Jaffna and Toronto along with London to strengthen this noble cause.
2.       Overview
In the Northern Province, every year, about 15,000 students sit the General Certificate in Education of Ordinary Level (GCE O/L) examination which is the stepping-stone for secondary education leading to the General Certificate in Education of Advanced Level (GCE A/L) which paves the way to enter University or any other higher education. In order to be successful in GCE O/L every student should pass at least six subjects with a compulsory pass in the first language and Mathematics.
According to key officials[1] of Ministry of Education of Northern Province, a significant number of students lost the opportunity for proceeding to secondary education due to failing Mathematics, including those who passed the first language together with five other subjects. Table 1 below shows, in brief, the situation based on GCE O/L results in 2013 and 2014, in the Northern Province;
Table 1
*(The performance in Eastern and Central provinces fell behind that in the Northern Province)
In the circumstance, the alumni embarked upon a broader approach by engaging in specific activities to improve the success rate of Tamil speaking students in North, East and Central provinces in the subject of mathematics in the GCE O/L examination held in December 2015. With a view to funding the identified activities, JHC 92 old boys with the support of JHC OBA UK, started in July 2015 the campaign of “Race for Education” raising GBP £16,440 through individual and corporate contributions numbering 172.  This challenge was achieved within a month.
3.       Key features
This effort may be considered unique among current educational support programs, particularly in respect of some key features given below;
·         To support underprivileged schools with limited functional capacity
·         Focus of the demographic area was beyond Jaffna District
·         To arrest poor performance in mathematics at the GCE O/L examinations which results in depriving future formal higher education opportunities
·         Increased reputation for JHC & alumni
4.       Results and Achievements
Over 12,900 students from 406 schools directly benefited from support extended under the project. Breakdown of the schools and work books distributed are shown in Table 2;
Table 2
Over Rupees 1.7 million was spent on printing the guidebooks and Rupees 1.2 Million was spent on conducting additional seminars for coaching the students in order to increase their chances to improve their performances in the O/L examination in 2015.
At least 200 additional seminars were held in over 150 centres with the engagement of over 250 teachers as resource personnel for the benefit of 11,000 students from 365 schools. It is estimated that over 4000 teaching hours were contributed by these resource personnel for coaching students.
A strong message was shared among the community; mainly among the stakeholders engaged in the educational development as that the Diaspora community in the overseas are ready to support the educational development in the provinces.
Results of GCE O/L examinations were released by the Department of Examinations of Sri Lanka on March 19, 2016. Though a detailed analysis of it is yet to be done, initial discussions with Zonal Directors of Educations and key officials from the zones supported under this initiative indicated that positives are predicted.
5.       Way Forward
The JHC old boys will continue their educational support programs with social responsibility during the year of 2016 with the support of old boys associations. Lessons learned and experience gained through the program held in 2015, contributed positively to design an effective implementation strategy to achieve the goal of “minimum possible failure rate in mathematics at GCE O/L in the Tamil speaking areas”. In 2016, as part of the fund raising event for the Race for Education Program, a 5km (2km for children) run is planned on 30 July 2016 in the cities of Melbourne, Jaffna, London and Toronto. We anticipate every one of you to support us to achieve our goal through “Race for Education” program.
In this relay which is aimed at lending a helping hand for the advancement of education, please affiliate yourself so as to strengthen our efforts.
In this small effort which is directed towards meeting the challenges that are staring at our future generation there remain many more things that cry for immediate attention

[1] G.N.Aathavan, SLEAS III, Deputy Director of Education (Administration), Zonal Education Office, Mullaitivu