Hi, our names are Luke and Alex Tchang and for the past three years, we have volunteered at an orphanage in Sri Lanka known as the Grace Care Center. This orphanage provides food, shelter, and other means of support to Sri Lankan girls who either lost their parents during the Sri Lankan Civil War or currently have parents who are unable to properly care for them. For these girls, education is at the center of their futures, as national exams open up career paths and employment opportunities. The O-Level exams, which are taken in 11th grade, allow them access to vocational training programs in high school (e.g. commerce, arts, health, dental training, etc). Additionally, the A-Level exams, which are taken between 12th and 14th grade, open up access to Sri Lankan state-sponsored universities. Unfortunately, the girls’ current school, The Girls’ Methodist School, receives insufficient funding from the Sri Lankan Department of Education. Consequently, the school lacks textbooks and qualified teachers. Often, the girls who can afford to hire their teachers as tutors after school tend to score much higher on school and nationwide exams, while the Grace orphans frequently struggle to contend with their peers. With education and national exams being such a struggle for the girls, yet such an important gateway to future employment and self-sustainability, the orphanage has decided to undertake a project to create a computer lab to improve the girls' quality of education and access to online resources. Renovations have already been made to open up a space for this computer lab, however, we still need to buy equipment (e.g. computers, projector, whiteboard, thermostat, AC unit, wifi improvements).
For this computer learning center, we plan to create a functional learning space for the girls to study in and for volunteers to teach them in. Comprehensively, we plan to make improvements to the office space’s existing wifi, install four new computer stations, mount a digital projector and whiteboard, and install a backup AC unit and thermostat. With improved wifi and a more reliable internet connection, we will be able to have more consistent and efficient Skype tutoring sessions with the orphans. Additionally, they will have eased access to online resources such as Khan Academy, Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and ALEKS. Similarly, the increased number of computer stations will more widely distribute access to such online resources and personalize their learning. With 25-30 girls at the orphanage and only two or three computers available to them at any given time, they often have to be put into large groups when using Skype or online resources (for the sake of time and due to the number of available volunteers who tutor them). Often what happens is that many girls are pushed ahead of or held behind their respective skill levels during group sessions. More generally, this dysfunctional setup minimizes what the girls get out of the time they put into learning. An increased number of computers would allow the girls to more frequently work individually or in smaller groups. Consequently, they would be able to focus in on topics they struggle with, learn at their appropriate level, and work more or less at their own pace. The projector will make teaching the girls both for overseas volunteers and orphanage employees more convenient and effective, as the girls will no longer need to crowd around a single laptop screen or notebook and can more easily stay engaged with the information being presented to them. The backup AC unit will help maintain safe temperatures and humidity levels for any hardware installed in the learning center. In past years, the orphanage has lost a number of computers due to this issue, as the current AC unit has been unreliable and insufficient in controlling humidity and temperature levels. The backup AC unit and thermostat would allow us to preserve any new equipment installed in the office for as long as possible. Lastly, no matter where these girls end up professionally, they will need to be comfortable with computers. With the computer lab, we hope to familiarize them with general computer skills so that they will be prepared for this possibility during their future careers. Overall, we hope to create a space that will increase the pace of the girls’ education, making learning more convenient and efficient for them while also ensuring the sustainability of the learning center’s equipment for long-term use. All things considered, this entire project should ultimately provide the girls with the resources necessary to gain an education that will leave a lasting impact on their adult lives.
Total Estimated Cost: $5000 – $6000
Dual Core PC Desktop ~ $400
i3 Desktop PC ~ $400
Projector: VIVITEK DS230 ~ $400
AC Unit + Thermostat ~ $1500
Wifi Improvements ~ $2500
*note that all computer parts will be bought separately and assembled locally to reduce PC costs by approximately half*
For more information on the Grace Care Center: gracegirlshome.org