Amidst what is potentially one of the hardest times in our lifetime, during the past two years we, especially as students, have been facing a gigantic educational crisis. As such, education and learning methodologies have changed dramatically with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. For most Sri Lankans, the novelty of online learning – even after more than two years since the country was initially locked-down – is yet to be fully-adopted.
Most students, without reliable internet access and/or technology, struggle to participate in digital learning; and this gap can be seen across various areas within the island and between income brackets within the country. The intensive lockdown, especially during the past year proved students were unable to participate in classroom teaching as well as supplementary tuition class learning systems.
With this island-wide problem in mind, the Rotaract Club of University of Colombo, Faculty of Arts, together with the Rotaract Club of Katugastota Region and the Interact Club of Girls’ High School Kandy, for the second consecutive year, introduced “Writing Clinic 2.0”. The project was led by the Vice President of our Club, Rtr. Sandali Rupasinghe, the Director of the Professional Development Avenue, Rtr. Sayuri Mohotti and the co-Chairs of the project, Rtr. Lalinka de Silva and Rtr. Tharini Ratwatte.
The initiative mainly targeted on assisting students sitting for the G.C.E. A/Ls in 2021, by providing study support in English Literature during the pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions. As English Literature is a subject that highly depend on peer reviews, extensive practice in writing and familiarity with the prescribed texts, we believed that the pandemic proved a bigger challenge to English Literature students in schools.
As such, undergraduates and graduates were called out to volunteer in teaching both English Language and English Literature components of the subject. Thereby, 15 volunteers were selected and once the registrations for students were open, nearly 20 students showed interest in participating in the project. Following this, volunteers were paired up with students and tutoring sessions were conducted for six weeks during August and September, 2021. The organizing committee carefully monitored all tutoring sessions and reports on the teaching and learning progress on each of the pairs were collected fortnightly. Once the project officially ended, several tutors and students showed interest in continuing the tutoring sessions independently.
‘Writing Clinic 2.0’ was a great opportunity for the volunteers who participated in the project and proved as an effective outlet to develop their teaching and tutoring skills. Similarly, with the ongoing pandemic situations and the subsequent travel restrictions, the initiative contributed greatly for the students as they were able to consult and resolve their academic-related questions, get their answer scripts corrected and commented on and most importantly, it helped them consult an experienced individual – one who underwent similar problems when studying English Literature.
As such, amidst a most-challenging period, the Professional Development Avenue of the RACUOCFOA, was successful in utilizing our time and our efforts to help a significant number of students in building up their knowledge and confidence in facing one of the most deterministic examinations of their lives.
– Rtr. Sayuri Mohotti
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