A day in the life of an educational planner from Sri Lanka

01 June 2022

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Priyanthie Kodithuwakku, a former English teacher, has worked for the Provincial Department of Education in Sri Lanka since 2014.

Meet Priyanthie Kodithuwakku, an educational planner from Sri Lanka. She lives in Kandy in the Central Province where she has worked for the Provincial Department of Education since 2014. For one day, we followed this former English teacher turned planner, as she balances school visits, meetings, and an IIEP-UNESCO online training course on educational planning and management. Her goal: to use her skills to improve the quality of education in her country.

7 am

Kodithuwakku commutes early to the office. It helps her manage her time carefully between the IIEP training course, which began in December 2021, and her professional responsibilities. After signing onto the IIEP Global Campus, she downloads the latest course materials for individual study.

“Sometimes there are power cuts so that way I can be sure to access them throughout the day,” she says.

8:15am

As normal office hours begin, Kodithuwakku has already started checking her emails. She shares her duties with another officer, and she is responsible for data management and supports coordination between the Ministry of Education and the zones. Right now, they are working on the annual census, and this year is the first time it is being done through an online platform. “We used to do this manually every year in June. We sent printed forms to the schools to collect data, but this year we started entering the data into an online programme.” Kodithuwakku says.

Out of 1,520 schools to be included, they are nearly 60% of the way there. But power cuts and bandwidth issues have created some challenges – both in the office, and at the school level. 

“Not all of the schools have internet, so we use several methods to enter the data at the divisional and zonal level.” She has also hosted several awareness sessions for some zones to help explain how to input data.

9 am

Today, Kodithuwakku will work only from her office, but if it were a Tuesday, she says she would be leaving early for her weekly school visit. “We try to give the schools feedback and the means to improve the quality,” she explains.

Caption: 
Priyanthie Kodithuwakku and her colleagues typically visit a local school on Tuesdays.

 

“We try to have them see things in a different way to promote their level of quality.”

Sometimes, the schools are in very rural areas, some 60 kilometers and there can be no internet connection. If they must commute far, she sometimes joins the IIEP training from the car.

10 am

Kodithuwakku participates in many meetings during the day, as information must be passed between the capital, Colombo, 15 different zones, districts, and schools as well.

Kodithuwakku’s supervisor said she had the ideal profile to pursue the training, and the organizational skills to manage her time between work and training. He would like to see more provincial officers trained because he sees this level key to implementing the educational policies established at the central level.

“The policies are created at a national level, but it is at the local level where the implementing agency must really have a full understanding.”
-  Mr.A.L.M.Zarudeen, Additional Provincial Director of Education (Development), Provincial Department of Education, Central Province.

1:30 pm

School visits normally wrap up around now and she would be on her way back to the office, just in time to join a live training session with IIEP instructors and some 39 other trainees from more than 20 countries around the world.

“I’m using the skills in my current work,” she explains. “And, whenever there is a chance, I apply it and pass the knowledge to my peers and subordinates. In that sense, I can share what I have gained from this valuable, global training.”

The IIEP training consists of five modules, spanning topics from the opportunities and limitations of education policies, how to improve learning outcomes, to plan preparation and implementation. Kodithuwakku recently received a participation badge for the second module, representing nearly 80 hours of work and participation in a range of learning activities.

To set her up for success in this training, Kodithuwakku also completed a self-paced module on becoming a 21st Century learner, which covered topics like motivation, time management, and technical skills to become an effective online learner. 

When asked what’s the most useful training content, she is quick to respond the module on educational data and indicators. “It’s impossible to take the necessary action, regarding literacy, how to write a basic sentence, or what happens once a student reaches grade 11, if we don’t calculate the right information,” she says.

“If we have the right indicators, we can guide our students better.”

3 pm

Her and her team are currently working on identifying the most important activities in the Annual Implementation Plan (AIP) to bring to life. To manage limited resources, they need to allocate funding to the most essential tasks, such as making up missed lessons to do COVID-19 and other challenges in Sri Lanka. Right now, Kodithuwakku says many education officers are busy with supervising the G.C.E.(O/L) exams for 11th grade students right now, which were delayed by five months.

Caption: 
Priyanthie Kodithuwakku, seen giving a presentation to the governor, acts as a link between the Ministry of Education and the zones in Sri Lanka.

4:15 pm

Later in the afternoon, the department closes for the day, and by 6pm Kodithuwakku is back home. However, her work is not quite finished for the day.

7 pm

In the evening, Kodithuwakku wraps up some remaining work from the day, and signs back into the IIEP training to respond on the group forum. Reflecting on the day, Kodithuwakku says some days it can feel like she is balancing a lot but that because she is learning, she feels very motivated. “I received the chance so I am motivated to balance my career and training, and I can see that I can apply the information to my current professional life.”

For this educational planner, the investments made today will carry a long-term benefit not only for her career, but for her department and the education system at large.

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