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Headstart opens up access to Guru.lk platform to combat schools lockdown due to COVID-19

Business News: Sri Lanka’s largest digital learning content platform Guru.lk has announced it is offering access to its vast resource of digitised material to schools and private tuition institutes whose regular classes have been suspended to retard the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

This would enable these institutions to maintain their interaction with students via the platform, and keep up the learning momentum without any physical contact until the situation returns to normal, Headstart (Pvt) Ltd., the company that owns Guru.lk said.

The platform enables teachers to deliver live lecturing, upload lessons and assessments, ask students to attempt quizzes, provide answers and provide activities and short notes. It also provides a facility for students to interact with each other for knowledge sharing with the teachers’ overview.

Access to Guru.lk content is provided free-of-charge to government schools with CSR funding from the Dialog Axiata supported Nenasa initiative. Private schools or educational institutions can use the facility for a monthly fee, with private institutions enjoying the added convenience of being able to pay the fees through their Dialog, Mobitel or SLT bills, the Company said.

Commenting on this latest initiative, Headstart Director/CEO Mr Hasitha Dela said: “We started the company with the vision of providing wide-spectrum access to education sans resource limitations based on location, ethnicity or social status. Today we are faced with a new challenge that further validates the importance of the platform. Students cannot go to schools, teachers cannot teach and private institutions are also closed. At this juncture we are happy to step up and provide online learning to all Sri Lankan children affected by this menace.”

Teachers using the Guru.lk platform can register themselves, invite students to join the online class via SMS, and students can join by logging in with a unique ID.

Students would require a broadband connection to access internet and a smart device such as a smartphone, tab or computer to access the lessons. Teacher content can be downloaded into the devices of students, making it possible to view the content offline. Teachers can make use of video tutorials prepared by Headstart to familiarise themselves and can create and upload lessons at their convenience from any location where they have access to the internet.

Headstart and Guru.lk are currently running a similar online initiative in more than 250 schools island-wide in partnership of Dialog Axiata, Microsoft and Commercial Bank of Ceylon, under the ‘Smart Schools’ project. More than 2,000 teachers have been trained on teaching with technology over a period of three years with the assistance of the Education Ministry and Provincial education offices under this project, which has won many accolades including an award in 2018 from Microsoft as one of the most successful programmes in the APAC region.

Headstart (Pvt) Ltd. has been developing content for the ICTA/Ministry of Education on school curricula since 2009 and is a subsidiary of Dialog Axiata. The company was a tech start-up with a project named ‘Vidunena’ under which the GCE A/L Science curriculum was provided to schools in an E Learning format, through an ICTA grant. The company now owns the largest E Learning content portal in Sri Lanka with more than 650,000 learners and 8,100 plus lessons to choose from. The content knowledge pool includes university academics, teachers, business leaders, corporate trainers and soft skills trainers, and is the largest such education-related talent pool in Sri Lanka.

The company also provides E Learning content and platform solutions to corporates, institutions, the government sector and the general public under the brand name Guru.lk.