The education of girls and women in Sri Lanka was a high priority from it’s inception. In 1976, Mrs Laurel Casinader established an education scheme to help financially disadvantaged girls of secondary school age and women aged over 18 years, who wished to follow short courses in education, leading to a career. This was called the ‘Laurel Casinader Career Scheme’.
In 1995, the Education Scheme was registered as a charity in the UK, with a separate constitution. A committee of 5 Trustees chaired by the Education Officer, makes decisions and operates a strict selection policy, guided by well defined criteria when allocating grants to the categories mentioned above. Advertisements are placed in January of each year in Sri Lankan newspapers in English, Sinhalese and Tamil, inviting applications from all ethnic groups. Funds are collected through annual and monthly gift aided donations and covenants to the Education Scheme. In addition, specific fund raising events are organised every year, such as coffee mornings, dinner dances etc.
In 2010, the career scheme was further extended to offer spoken English tuition to women to further enhance their career prospects at the job interview stage. A pilot project was started in October 2010 in the Sabaragamuwa Province in Sri Lanka. Thirty girls were selected to follow a one year course in spoken English. We were fortunate to get assistance from a female member of the International Rotary Committee, to oversee this project. Of these students 23 completed the course. Four students entered University, 2 girls gained entrance to a medical faculty, 2 girls went on to further education and 7 girls were successful in obtaining gainful employment. Similar projects will be conducted this year in other rural areas of Sri Lanka. A gift aided donation scheme payable by standing order was set up in 2001, while individual donations are welcome and encouraged.