and charisma - essence of Culture Clinics
By Anuradha Samarajiva
Most children spend thirteen years in classrooms, learning everything
from the alphabet to the capital of Tajikistan. When they finally
finish school at 18, society expects them to be responsible young
adults. But not everyone agrees that the system works. Researcher
and educationist Saumya Kodagoda feels the traditional education
is not sufficient to produce a child of good character. Having identified
many draw backs in the school system she talked to teachers and
parents, and compiled a list of common problems children face. These
include scoring low marks, examination failure, addiction to television,
video games, cricket matches, and diseases initially confined to
a solution she set up the Society for Promotion of Wisdom. She believes
that lack of culture is the root cause for most of these problems.
Thus, she developed the programme she calls "Cultural Clinic".
According to Ms. Kodagoda, the character of a "wise" person
depends largely on spirituality, with aesthetic sense, secular knowledge,
good health habits, and versatility making up the remainder.
is the centre of the programme, as Ms. Kodagoda believes the library
is the heart of a school. Many small schools don't have adequate
library facilities. Ms. Kodagoda has created and patented a tool
called the 'Wisdom Kit'. It's a moveable cupboard that can store
up to 850 books, along with maps, school supplies, and periodicals.
Cultural Clinic has been tested in both homes and schools. There
are four Cultural Clinics in villages serving three to four hundred
families. To implement the project, local authorities are addressed
and the area is surveyed. Ten to fifteen people are trained to be
mentors who will run the clinic, and the Wisdom Kit stocked with
the selected books. The term 'clinic' is used as mentors conduct
a clinical evaluation of each child to determine his or her needs.
The same process occurs for a single family, who can set up the
Wisdom Kit in the study room of their house.
methodology has been built by Ms.Kodagoda over many years. She has
done research papers on education, and an annotated bibliography
on the Sri Lankan educational research. Still, she says, "There's
been so much research, but no improvement in children or schools."
from families and teachers is good evidence that this system works.
Mr. A. Marzook, a father of three, asked Ms. Kodagoda to set up
a Cultural Clinic in his home. After a few weeks, he said his son's
concentration, as well as reading and writing abilities had improved.
In a rural school in Mahiyangana area, for the first time a child
got through the scholarship examination, thanks to the Cultural
her programme, Ms. Kodagoda hopes to endow children with their cultural
heritage and conduct "an education of the emotions”.
By developing character and knowledge simultaneously, she hopes
that students can become valuable members of society.