| 12.5°C Belfast

Children in Sri Lanka climb trees to access online school

Schools in Sri Lanka have been closed for the most part since March 2020.

Close

Children sit on tree branches as they access their online lessons from a forest reserve (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Children sit on tree branches as they access their online lessons from a forest reserve (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Children sit on tree branches as they access their online lessons from a forest reserve (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Getting online school lessons for residents of one remote Sri Lankan village requires a trek through dense bushes sometimes visited by leopards and elephants.

The teachers and some 45 schoolchildren in Bohitiwaya then climb more than two miles to the top of a rock to find an internet signal.

Information technology teacher Nimali Anuruddhika uses the signal to upload lessons for her students who have not been able to go to school because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The students who also live in the village make the same climb to download online lessons sent to them by their teachers.

Close

Teacher Ajith Attenayake uses his mobile phone to share online lessons (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Teacher Ajith Attenayake uses his mobile phone to share online lessons (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

AP/PA Images

Teacher Ajith Attenayake uses his mobile phone to share online lessons (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Not all have mobiles or laptops, with four or five children sharing one device.

Their parents, most of whom are farmers, often accompany their children.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

H.M. Pathmini Kumari, who accompanies his sixth-grade son, says the children climb the rock twice a day and their safety is a big concern for parents.

The village in the central-eastern part of the island country lacks basic amenities, and its children had been studying in a government school, now closed, that is some 10 miles away.

Close

Children prepare to access their online lessons climbing tree branches in a forest reserve in their village in Bibila (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Children prepare to access their online lessons climbing tree branches in a forest reserve in their village in Bibila (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

AP/PA Images

Children prepare to access their online lessons climbing tree branches in a forest reserve in their village in Bibila (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

In the village of Lunugala, about 37 miles away, adults escort schoolchildren to a mountaintop treehouse in a forest reserve.

It is about 30 feet high and has internet access. They take turns to upload their homework and download lesson plans.

Schools in Sri Lanka have been closed for the most part since March 2020.

Authorities say they make every effort to provide all children with access to education, but Joseph Stalin, who heads the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, says at most 40% of Sri Lanka’s 4.3 million students can take part in online classes.

The majority lack access to devices or connectivity.

Sri Lanka’s government on Monday began a campaign to vaccinate all teachers with a view to reopening schools soon.


Top Videos



Privacy