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The month of July turned out to be a happy and a significant one for the staff and the students to have both the former and the new directors together at Loyola Campus. Their presence and commitment set an example among the youngsters to grasp the meaning of unity, collaboration, and companionship. Thiranjala Weerasinghe is getting ready to leave to Birmingham to continue his religious formation. The staff and the students thank him wholeheartedly for his unfailing and dedicated service rendered to the Campus and wish him all the best for his future endeavors.
At the moment we keep ourselves busy with finding ways to promote students for the new batch starting from September. It is a tremendous joy to see how the present students show interest in spreading the news about Loyola Campus among their friends and younger ones. It is a sign that learning English empowers our students to come forward to get involved in volunteer work.
There is a rapid growth in mutual respect and understanding between the staff and the students. On one hand teachers try hard to give their best to students and on the other hand students prove that they are interested by completing the works given. We are really blessed with equal number of students in both upper intermediate and elementary classes. Our credit goes to the former director and for all those who worked hard to promote the students to come to Loyola Campus.
In the middle of the month Fr Emil Susantha SJ, the new director visited Karisel and visited the parents of the children of the evening class. Though it was a pre-planned visit, the parents were little shocked to receive a priest in their midst. No wonder that his visit might have created a sense of care.
The month of June was a special month for Loyola Campus for a number of reasons. First, the academic activities planned for the month continued without any disruption. The Centre also welcomed Rev Emil Susantha SJ, the newly appointed Director of Loyola Campus- Mannar. Although he will officially take-over the operation of the Centre from 12 July 2018, he paid a quick visit to the Centre and met the students and the staff.
The academic programme at Loyola Campus- Mannar continued with energy and enthusiasm. The two batches of English Language students have progressed their skills and competencies through a number of activities that were provided during the month. The Diploma in English progressed towards the last couple of months. At the moment the Diploma in English students are mastering their skills in English literature and Academic Writing, both of which are tremendously useful areas for their future engagements. Although the students found the modules on English Literature and Academic Writing a bit challenging, they are gradually learning the expected skill-sets. The Elementary English students have increased their proficiency level in speaking and writing. There have been a number of activities aimed at improving their abilities in both these areas.
In the midst of intense academic work, the students are provided a break from the routine class schedules through a number of subject related activities such as group work and discussions, movie screenings and appreciations and evaluation activities of their competencies. Through these varied activities the Centre hopes to keep the students engaged and interested in the learning process.
The evening children’s classes continued throughout the month. The students from Grades 1,2,3 and 4 attend regular classes from 3.15 to 5.15 pm. Five students who follow the Diploma in English have been absorbed as temporary teachers to conduct the evening children’s classes. At the moment three subjects are taught for those students who attend these classes: English, Maths and Tamil. In future, the Centre hopes to encourage more and more students to attend the classes.
It is a beginning of another term for the professional courses in English and Computer. Despite the low intake of students during this period, the Centre and staff have taken a number of initiatives in making known the commencement of these courses at the Centre.
The classes for the new term began on 9 May 2018. At the moment there are two batches of students following courses. There are thirteen students who follow the Diploma in English. At the moment they are following a number of modules in their Diploma: Upper Intermediate level of GEL programmes and modules on Introduction to English Literature and English. A number of other assignments such as movie reviews, practice on public speaking are also part of the course during this term. There are also twelve students who follow the Elementary level of the GEL programme of JWL. They are quite eager to master the English language and increase their level of proficiency.
Loyola Campus- Mannar has expanded its outreach by offering classes for children located in a number of deserving villages away from Mannar town. For the moment Thottavelli and Karisel has been identified as two target villages where the need for assisting children is felt due to a number of reasons. Loyola Campus- Mannar offers classes on English, Maths and Tamil for the children from grade 1-4. There is lot of enthusiasm and eagerness in parents sending their children for classes. The Centre has also arranged a special transportation service to bring children from these two villages and drop them back after classes. Once the programmes is more stable, Loyola Campus hopes extend its services to other villages in need.
It is definitely a joy to see the students who had been a part of Loyola Campus- Mannar from January to April completing their course and the visible improvement in their academic performance and personality development. Loyola Campus- Mannar has been motivated offer its students more than just knowledge which is of course useful but not sufficient in accompanying the young.
The certificate awarding ceremony for the students who have completed their courses during September to December 2017 was help on 21 April 2018 at Loyola Campus- Mannar Hall. Most Rev Dr Emmanuel Fernando, the Bishop of Mannar was the Chief Guest of the Ceremony. Students, parents, religious, priests and well-wishers took part in the graduation function. The students presented a number of programmes such as a skit, song, speech, poem recitation etc. The entire graduation programme was conducted by the students. The guests and parents appreciated the quality and the content of the programmes presented. The Bishop of Mannar was highly taken up by the fluency of students in English language.
Students who are belonging to January-April 18 batch had their tour on 23 April 2018. The students visited Sigiriya and Mihintale. It was a time to enjoy the companionship and together share with one another the joys and the richness of oneself. The tour marked the end of the academic programme.
The exams were conducted from 25-28 April 2018 in different batches. The students who followed courses on English and Computer had written, practical and oral exams scheduled during this period. Exams for the JWL GEL programme and other Loyola Campus exams are specifically designed to measure the level of skill acquisition of students and not how much they could memorize in a given time. This has given the students a fair chance of performing well during the exams.
The Centre remain alive with enthusiasm of students throughout the day and it creates a healthy momentum. Having around 100 students who regularly come to the Centre for classes in English and Computer, there is a tremendous spirit of life and young energy. This energy pushes the Centre and the staff to dedicate their time and energy in creating effective strategies to engage with the students who come to the Centre.
The month has been important one for a number of reasons. First and foremost, after the end of practical exams of the post O/L students by the end of February, the students are more settled for the last two months of their studies at Loyola Campus. There was also a major reshuffle of classes in a particular batch taking into consideration of their performance and the improvement.
On 1 March the students and the facilitators bid farewell to Sr Britta Müller-Schauenburg from the Congregation of Jesus, Germany. She was part of Loyola Campus- Mannar for a period of two months and had rendered a dedicated service in educating the students and guiding them.
The Students completed the online Cambridge English Placement Tests. This is part of the Global English Programme offered by JWL. The continual support and assistance form JWL has made the experience of the students who follow GEL programme a success.
A team of inspectors form the Tertiary Vocational Education Commission visited Loyola Campus- Mannar for the evaluation of the application submitted for registration of the Centre and the ability to offer courses in English (Diploma and Certificate) and Computer. The Centre hopes to receive the official registration by April 2018.
The second month into the academic pro-gramme started in January 2018, the students who are pursuing their studies in English language and computer studies are progressing with satisfaction. Continual assistance and input from the facilitators, who most often guide the students not being limited to the syllabus and the course content has provided a great opportunity for the students to ac-quire new skills and grow as better human beings.
Fr Joel Kunanayagam, SJ, conducted a half-day life-skill training programme for the students of Loyola Campus under the theme of ‘Choices’. It helped the students to deeply reflect on the choices that they make in life.
Many of the post ordinary level students who had to attend school for practical sessions were given alternative times to join the clas-ses. Despite a number of strategies and the effort of the facilitators, the attendance dur-ing the first two weeks of February has been quite week. Since, the end of the practical session by the third week of February, the students have got back to their regular class schedules.
As the students progress through the modules, a number of review activities and evalu-ations were conducted to help the students to progress in areas that they are weak.
The highlight of the month was the visit of Fr Arturo Sosa, SJ, and the team of Jesuit Provincials of South Asia. The Jesuit Provincials visited Loyola Campus– Mannar on 22 Febru-ary. The students welcomed the guests with a short cultural programme which was followed by lunch. On the 23 February, the English Diploma students along with the facilita-tors traveled to Trincomalee to be part of the programme organised for Fr Arturo Sosa, SJ in Trincomalee. The students performed a mime which was appreciated.
After the Christmas holidays, Loyola Campus- Mannar commenced for the New Year on 3 January 2018. Due to a number of considerations and the betterment of the students, the Centre decided to extend the duration of September-December 2017 batch for a period of another three weeks. Although the exams for the students were scheduled during the first week of January 2018, the exams were conducted only during the last week of January. It provided the students more opportunity to equip themselves in skills and competencies.
As planned the new batch of students commenced from 3 January 2018. Solomon Raj SJ conducted a half-day orientation programme for the new batch of students on 14 January 2018. The session included an input and a number of activities and games to make the students feel more comfortable and at ease with the new learning environment. Having conducted the placement test, the students were divided into two levels of the Cambridge Unlimited Syllabus: Elementary and Pre-Intermediate. The Diploma in English offered by Loyola Campus- Mannar also continues. The Diploma students have progressed to the intermediate level in Cambridge Unlimited English.
Loyola Campus- Mannar warmly welcomed Sr Britta Müller-Schauenburg belonging to the Congregation of Jesus. She is from Germany and she is in Sri Lanka as part of an exposure programme among the Loyola Campus- JWL students in Mannar. She has brought variety and year of teaching experience at Universities. She is expected to be in Mannar till the 3 March 2018.
The Centre hopes to provide the best quality education for the students and an educative experience that can transform their lives. In this regard one of the major challenges the Centre faces is the irregularity of the students who are yet to complete their GCE Ordinary Level practical exams. Since the exams are schedule during 21-24 February, the Centre has taken a number of measures to accommodate the students and provide opportunities to continue the course. The facilitators also have taken extra effort in providing the students classes at alternative timings to cover what they have missed.
The monsoons in Mannar has brought lots of hope and aspiration for the people. Farmers toil hard in plowing and sowing paddy. Looking at the fields covered with paddy and ponds filled with flowers and birds, refreshes mind and relaxes the body. It is definitely a quite interesting journey to move through different seasons in Mannar that presents a new reality of experiences. Loyola Campus- Mannar too has journey through different experiences during the last four months since September 2017 batch commenced. It has indeed been a quite an enriching journey for the facilitators, staff, the Institute and the students.
The month of December was dedicated for a number of academic tasks. The facilitators provided students with several practical sessions where they had the opportunity to practice the skills they had learnt in the classroom. As Loyola Campus emphasis, the need to accumulate skill and competencies and not just passing exams and obtaining ranks, this type of exercises aided students greatly. The improvement of students in their academic performance and growth towards holistic living and experience has encourage the Centre to continue to be a part of the lives of students and help them to grow and blossom.
Normal calluses continued till 22 December. It was the last day for the year. The course end exams for the students will be conducted on 12 – 14 January 2018. The facilitators are currently preparing the students for the exams and the course end evaluation. One of the biggest challenges the facilitators face is the irregularity of some students. Despite continuous feedback and encouragement, some students fall behind the expectations of the Centre. A number of areas like this has given lot of space for the Centre to improve and come up with effective strategies.
Currently Loyola Campus- Mannar is preparing for the commencement of the new batch from 8 January 2018. There is lots of enthusiasm among the parents, teachers and the students of Mannar in being a part of the learning process at Loyola Campus. The Centre also hopes to expand the children’s’ programme and attract more students. A number of activities are planned for the upcoming months and the Centre awaits the arrival of a number of new staff who will part of the Centre for short and long time basis.
The months October and November have been two important months for Loyola Campus- Mannar for a number of reasons. There are positive signs of the improvement of the batch of students who joined in September 2017. There is eagerness and desire to sharpen their abilities. Moreover, the teachers have witnessed a progress in students. The students have not only shown academic progress but also have shown maturity and readiness for leadership and new initiatives. This is an encouraging development that has been observed. While the students took some time to adjust to the academic demands and the environment of Loyola Campus- Mannar, now they apply themselves quiet diligently in acquiring the skills.
The Loyola Campus- Mannar expects to keep the students engaged during the entire period of their course as the students follow a number of courses with varying durations. It is important that the Centre along with its teachers keep the energy level of the students high so that the students will go through their learning process with enthusiasm.
As it was mentioned earlier the level of improvement of students and their engagement with learning has been positive throughout the last two months. This has been due to the effort of the teachers in taking their teaching methodologies beyond the traditional realm and attempting to incorporate strategies to keep the students engaged. The second strategy that the Centre used was to introduce something engaging and new for the students regularly. One such effort was the attempt in organizing QUEST 2017, the English Day of Loyola Campus- Sri Lanka. Loyola Campus- Mannar took the lead in organizing QUEST 2017. The event itself and the process of organizing provided so much of opportunities for the students and the facilitators to express themselves creatively. First it was a challenge and definitely all had to put in extra hours in getting event organized. However, the cooperation received form the facilitators and the students has been very positive. The students were not only enthusiastic about participating in QUEST 2017 as competitors but shouldered some responsibility in making the event a successful one. The event was also a good opportunity for Loyola Campus- Mannar to publicise itself among the schools in and around Mannar. The students and the judges who were a part of the event will carry forward news about the new initiative and the type of learning offered at Loyola Campus.
There is lots of enthusiasm among the students to continue their studies with Loyola Campus- Mannar. The Institute feels that to be a positive sign in establishing the educational services offered by Loyola Campus in and around Mannar. A number of students have shown their interest in following the Diploma in English and the Diploma in Liberal Arts. Having the students for a longer duration of time provides the Institute a better possibility in incorporating its vision of education, empowerment and transformation to be realized.
The students and staff of Loyola Campus- Mannar organized a tour to Nuwara Eliya, the Central part of Sri Lanka from 8-10 December 2017. The staff supported by the students planned and arranged the tour. The students got the opportunity to visit a number of important places such as Nuwara Eliya town, Gregory’s Park, Horton Plains etc. For most of the students this was the first time visiting a hilly station in the Central part of Sri Lanka. It was indeed an exciting experience for the students.
Since many Sri Lankan schools do not provide coeducation opportunity and to mature and maintain healthy relationships with those of the opposite sex, tours of this nature and many of the interactions at Loyola Campus becomes crucial in the growth and development of students. It is a way of providing education which is holistic and affects the human person and not just the intellect.
While Loyola Campus provides education through classroom activities, initiatives of this nature also are expected to mould the students and help them to be better persons in the society. Two of the areas that was observed during the trip is the readiness of the students to take leadership and the amount of maturity shown during the entire trip.