The Alpha School was opened in January 2016. The mission of the school is to provide affordable English based education without the excessive fees of other similar English education based schools.
English education in Sri Lanka is offered at International Schools and select national schools, and these schools mainly cater to the wealthy and the affluent. Costly tuition fees tend to exclude the majority of the population, and as a result there are many parents to whom English education for their children is but a dream.
The Alpha School had its fledgling beginnings as a tug in the hearts of the founders many years ago to provide affordable English education to Sri Lankan children. In 2015, at the encouragement of some of the staff and the older children at Footprints the idea of a school offering affordable education was revisited.
In January 2016, through the Grace of God, the Alpha school opened its doors to three children in Grade 1, and by the middle of the year the number of children had increased to five. Education at the Alpha school is offered in English, while the national languages, Sinhalese and Tamil are taught as subjects.
As of January 2017, the Alpha School has 14 children over 2 grades, with more applications coming in regularly. Owing to the nature of their programme, they are now facing the challenge of needing more staff and having to shift to new premises to accommodate more classrooms.
In January 2018, the Alpha School was relocated to new premises not far from the Library. The school started 2018 with 28 children over 3 grades, with more applications coming in regularly. The new premises cater for our present needs, however owing to the nature of their programme, we constantly face the challenge of needing more staff and soon new premises to accommodate more classrooms and students.
At present we have three full-time teachers, plus volunteers. Miss Surangi Rodrigo, who is the young Headmistress of the Alpha School, is fast becoming one of the leaders at CAVALS. She is at present simultaneously following an external degree in English at a State university.
“The teachers are multi-lingual. They explain the English words and demonstrate the meaning of the words to the children. The process is slow, but after about six months, the children understand the language sufficiently to be able to do their math and other subjects. As teachers we find this very exciting – to see children who do not know English making progress. Being conversant in English opens many opportunities to the children. I see the teachers using their laptops to explain and make it easier for the children to grasp the meaning of the English words.”
Teaching at the Alpha School is challenging. Unlike in other international schools, where the children who enter speak English (coming from English speaking homes), our children do not know a word of English. They first have to learn and understand the language, before moving on to learning the subjects.
In the past six months, Alpha School had a sports day, took the kids to the Zoo, had outdoor programmes and have progressed in English. In July 2017 a team from the UK visited and held a special interactive Alpha Kids Bible Week which was thoroughly enjoyed (By the students, staff and volunteers).