A little known fact is that Christian students face discrimination in schools in Sri Lanka. In several government schools where the majority of students are Buddhists or Hindus, the Christian students who are the minority are not taught Christianity. The NCEASL identified this need 9 years ago and initiated a support scheme for teachers who teach Christianity on a voluntary basis in government schools where the subject is not taught. In 2014, the NCEASL met with the teachers they had supported throughout the years and addressed some of the common problems they faced. The success of this gathering and the enthusiasm of the teachers inspired the NCEASL to conduct this programme annually.
From 30 August to 1 September 2017, the NCEASL organised a residential seminar for 33 volunteer teachers supported by the NCEASL. They represented the districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Vavuniya, Matale, Kandy, Hambanthota, Ratnapura, Ampara and Anuradhapura. Over the 3 days, the resource persons addressed topics on understanding the calling to be a teacher, how to understand the psychology of children of different age groups, lesson planning and how to set an example as a Christian teacher through their behaviour towards fellow teachers and children. The presentation on child abuse was very topical and an eye opener for the teachers, instructing them to be aware of danger lurking around children.
“I consider it a great honour to teach what I know about Jesus to others. Teaching children about Jesus is a service to God” said Christina Mary, a young volunteer Christianity teacher from Balangoda. Even though Christina Mary is well accepted and appreciated by her principal, it was not so for Elizabeth and Surangi. Both these teachers serve under tremendous hardships; they are not given a classroom, desks or chairs for the children. “I have to look for a place each time I hold a class. Sometimes I conduct classes outdoors because a room hasn’t been allocated for me” said Elizabeth, explaining the maltreatment she faces as a Christianity teacher. “Many are the times I want to give up, yet for the sake of the children I will continue to teach as that is God’s calling for me” said Surangi.