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International Forum for Teachers held at BMICH

The International Forum for Teachers (IFT) organised by Gateway Graduate School, in partnership with Pearson Edexcel and the University of Nottingham, was held at the BMICH, recently.

During the event, in recognition of the services of Sri Lankan teachers, a ‘Sri Lankan Teacher of the Year’ award was presented to Asith Muthukumara Jayarathna from St. Anthony’s Maha Vidyalaya in Dhaluwa, Puttalam. The award was created with financial assistance from former cricketer Aravinda de Silva, who had provided Rs. 1 million for the endeavour.

Housing and Construction Minister Sajith Premadasa was the chief guest at the event, while Education Ministry Secretary Sunil Hettiarachchi was the guest of honour.

The remainder of the five finalists listed for the award were T. Sandya Mendis from Pahalagiribawa Primary School in Galgamuwa, Hewayalage Suneetha Irangani from Dehiattakandiya Madya Maha Vidyalaya, S. M. G. S. Muhandiram from Palmadulla Dharmaloka Maha Vidyalaya, and L. H. M. Gayan Gunathilaka from Gamini Central College in Nuwara Eliya.

The judging process was carried out by senior Education Ministry officials, including Additional Planning and PR Secretary Madura Wehalla, Management and Quality Assurance Director Kumari Seneviathne, Teacher Education Administration Director M. F. N. Harija, and Tamil School Division Director S. Muralidaran, with assistance from Head of Gateway Graduate School’s Faculty of Education and Teacher Training Hasini Gajadeera.

Addressing the event, Minister Sajith Premadasa said that teachers had to continuously update themselves to meet the challenges of the changing world. In that respect, he said it was commendable to see what Gateway and IFT were offering to the teaching community. As the chief guest, he said he was obliged to add value to the good work that was being carried out by teachers countrywide, and offered land and houses to the five finalists.

Recalling the influence his former principal and his late father had in his life, Aravinda de Silva said that all Sri Lankans were grateful to their teachers and pledged his commitment to continue to develop the ‘Sri Lankan Teacher of the Year’ award. He said it was his dream to witness a Sri Lankan teacher winning the global award one day, in the same manner the country’s cricketers won the world cup in 1996.

Gateway Group Chairman Dr. Harsha Alles said all the efforts were aimed at elevating the statuses of teachers as well as to boost their professionalism. He said that if Sri Lanka was to be competitive in the global landscape, the country would require to attract a larger number of talented youth to the profession.

This year’s IFT, themed ‘From Sage on the Stage, to Guide by the Side’, that was attended by more than 400 teachers and education professionals both local and international, was followed by the main awards ceremony.

The IFT Conference is the first of its kind and is open to all teachers of state, private and international schools in Sri Lanka and regional countries. Due to popular demand, the conference was repeated on both July 13 and 14, with participant numbers exceeding 900.

The IFT’s mission is to assist in developing world-class teachers through global partnership, collaboration and dialogue. The annual IFT Conference offers delegates the opportunities to network, exchange practices and gain better understanding of the rapidly-changing environments of global school education.

The conference, which was moderated by Head of School (UNMC) Education of the University of Nottingham in Malaysia, Prof. Dr. Ganakumaran Subramaniam, included speakers such as University of Nottingham Associate Prof. Dr. Cynthia Yolanda Doss; International Teacher Trainer, Education Consultant and Coach David Kaye; Lecturer of University College London (UCL) Institute of Education Kim Insley, Lanka Harness Co. Executive Chairman Rohan Pallewatte, and International Operatic Soprano and International Commercial Lawyer Kishani Jayasinghe-Wijayasekara.

The event concluded with a panel discussion where Aravinda de Silva too, was present along with Rev. Marc Billimoria, Warden of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and Harish Doraiswamy, Vice President of Qualifications, Schools and Vocational, South Asia, Pearson.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Pearson Education Regional Director Premila Paulraj.