Photo: Although he struggles at school, Santhush from Batticaloa in Sri Lanka dreams of becoming a teacher one day
The cows are lowing in the distance as Santhush wakes up each morning. At 5.30am, as sun is just beginning to rise in his village in eastern Sri Lanka, Santhush gets out of bed, grabs two buckets, and walks to the queue at the community well. It is Santhush’s task to collect enough water for the family’s daily use.
His mother, Vasanthy, makes a quick meal of cassava for breakfast. If there is rice left over from the previous day, she heats it up for the family before she leaves for work. Vasanthy cooks for a few households in town. Santush’s father passed away during the war, so Vasanthy is the family’s sole breadwinner and it isn’t easy for her to provide for Santhush and his three brothers.
Most parents here work as labourers; others struggle to earn an income through fishing, paddy farming, or selling firewood.
“If our children do not study well to acquire skills and qualifications, they too will have to do odd jobs. Now the world is working more and more with machines, and labouring work is reducing, finding jobs will become more difficult. This is happening in our area now, as machines replace human labour in the paddy fields,” says Vasanthy.
Vasanthy worries about her children’s education and their future. She was not able to complete school due to the Sri Lanka's civil war, and she wants better for her children. But she also has concerns about the teaching quality at the schools her children attend.
“We don’t have regular communication with the teachers, and parents don’t always know the exact needs of our children,” she says.
“My studies are difficult,” adds Santhush, who struggles with reading, writing, and maths.
“I feel shy and embarrassed when I am slower than others.”
But Santhush is also positive about his future: “I think I can improve with help,” he says.
Santhush dreams of becoming a teacher one day. He wants to help other children in his community have a better education.
“When I become a teacher, I will make sure that my students get enough help to read,” says Santhush.
Vasanthy adds: “My hope is for my children to get a good education that enables them to find a job, and that they can live in a peaceful society.”
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