"Students, teachers and educational organizations in developing educational contexts cannot afford access to the best and most current learning resources, most of which are usually produced and distributed from the developed world in the West. Even when these resources are affordable, the most current and appropriate educational resources are often inaccessible where they are most needed."
Education is one of the most basic building blocks for growth. Therefore, educating teachers provides promise for generations of students to come. With this theory in mind, CONTESSA aims to establish a teacher education program that will ultimately equip current and future teachers in Sri Lanka with the tools and skills needed to engage, empower and educate their students.
After extensive research by the University of Graz, teacher education was found to be a most crucial issue in Sri Lankan schools. Teachers are a core element of the educational world and improving the teaching skills of future and current educators in Sri Lanka will make a significant contribution that will have lasting individual and societal impacts.
CONTESSA will not only impact those who teach, but it will also make a significant contribution across various spheres in the field of education:
Contessa project members visited school in Sri Lanka. ©contessa
- European Sphere: The orientation towards European standards of teaching will connect Sri Lanka to international standards in their teacher training, which will help promote the flow of knowledge and ideas across borders in the future.
- National Sphere: The National Institute of Education and the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka will acquire a comprehensive pedagogic distance-learning program for current in service teachers who lack the appropriate training background or want to develop themselves further.
- Sri Lankan Universities: New courses will be offered to supplement the existing teacher education programs at universities with formats and methods allowing for capacity building in view of the achievement of contemporary teaching skills.
- Sri Lankan Further Education Sector: A completely laid out Train-the-Trainer program will be offered in order to improve the teaching competencies of teacher educators, a basic requirement for a qualitative teacher education.
- Local and Regional Spheres: The improvement of the teaching competencies of teachers will result in a better learning situation for the students and will seek to improve the overall standard of education throughout Sri Lanka.
CONTESSA Meeting in Colombo. ©contessa
Presentation event in Sri Lanka. ©contessa
Professor Manjula Vithanapathirana, the National Coordinator for CONTESSA and the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Colombo, recently wrote an article about the impact she feels CONTESSA will have on the Sri Lankan education system. Below is an excerpt from the article outlining the necessity of teacher education programs like CONTESSA:
Teachers cannot be technicians who merely follow the instructional guides. The need to empower the teachers to meet the challenges of any teaching-learning context is a major persisting gap in teacher development.
Teacher education is based on the theory that teachers are made, not born. Teacher education is ever-evolving and dynamic. In order to prepare teachers who are competent to face the challenges of the dynamic society, teacher education has to keep abreast of recent developments and trends. Teacher education is a continuous process. Teacher education is a life-long experience that goes from one’s initial education to retirement. (Vithanapathirana, M. 2019)
Professor Shironica Karunanayaka, the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the Open University of Sri Lanka, together with Dr. Som Naidu, wrote about the importance and impact of online educational resources like CONTESSA: