PROJECT 1 - Early Learning Centre, Sri Lanka

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We are very excited to share our plan for Street Tea's first Early Learning Centre that we aim to have up and running in 2020.

Weligama is a town on the south coast of Sri Lanka in the Southern Province where the main income for its population is tourism and fishing. The area was significantly affected by the tsunami in 2004 with almost 500 deaths and 2,200 houses damaged or washed away.

Nine out of ten people facing poverty in Sri Lanka live in rural areas. Many who live in poverty have no means of escaping it or helping their children to do so and as it is very difficult for the poorest people to save money and secure themselves from shocks like illness or death, the cycle continues.

Children in poor households often have to choose between working and their education. Generally speaking the education system in Sri Lanka is considered not to be focused on giving students the skills they need for employment and instead it is based on learning through repetition with students being ill-prepared for employment with poor literacy and numeracy skills.

Education is free for children from five years old but the expense of uniforms, books, materials, shoes and transport to and from school often means that many children do not attend regularly and if they do they are taken out of formal education at an early age to help their families make a living. In Weligama that living is fishing, famous for its technique of stilt fishing (casting their lines out while balancing on a 20-50 metre pole).

We have a dedicated learning centre with its first classroom area now being used by our first young students, despite the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 lockdowns. Eventually we see that this centre will serve as a place for pre-school learning for the under fives, after-school study, to act as a community centre where support and guidance can be provided and a place where mentoring can occur.

We want it to also be a place for children to be stimulated by being given the opportunity to play with apparatus that will develop gross motor and minor motor skills. We also want to promote the learning of the English language by innovative computer-aided methods as we see this as an important route out of poverty and we intend for the centre to become a place of English teaching excellence.

We are a social business and rely entirely on the sale of our tea to establish and sustain this project and those that will follow. By purchasing and enjoying our tea you will be directly accelerating the reality of this project, enabling us to improve the life chances of the most disadvantaged children.

Thank you for your support.