WITNESS AND NURTURE
Ecumenical Collaboration and Christian Discipleship
Emerging from the vision and mission of the NCCSL, the primary mandate and call of Council is to remain committed as well as to further enhance Ecumenical collaboration, Christian fellowship and Discipleship in all its engagements. The Ecumenical task therefore is the fulfilment of a greater vision, and the desire of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, objectives of this strategic priority are oriented towards promoting unity and commitment among the Constituent members. The Churches are called to witness through prayer and are encouraged to closely engage as well as extend services towards the empowerment and development of God’s children, particularly the poor and marginalized. The ecumenical collaboration will continue to focus on matters of social concern, where the intended initiatives are to further strengthen ecumenical united witness as well as to respond to the existing needs. This is believed to be a greater vocation and biblical mandate which invites churches to continue their ministry with wisdom, prudence and courage for the benefit of all people.
The year under review has been an extremely challenging period with the tragic Easter attack in April 2019, followed by a Presidential and Parliamentary elections and the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic resulting in curfew, lockdowns and social distancing. Congregations could not meet or assemble for the first time for a prolonged period, unseen even in the extremely volatile days in the nation. Yet the Church of Jesus Christ moved on strengthened in the faith and continued in its call to serve the people. Development and promotion of practical guidelines and tools for member constituencies for ecumenical collaboration, collective events to bring us ecumenically together in common witness and celebration, the active involvement in Christian Student Education initiatives across the country through radio and TV programming were the key highlights of the year. This key strategic area is further unpacked and reported through the following objectives.
- Prayer and worship
- Discipleship and renewal
- Learning and edification
- Ecumenical formation and leadership
- Accompaniment and collaboration
3 Learning and Edi fication : To help Christians to grow in scriptural knowledge and commitment to their faith
Christian education in State Schools and Sunday schools cover a significant component of the work in this area which not only facilitates ecumenical witness but also addresses issues of religious freedom and is mandated by the churches to enhance the faith and knowledge of the children of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Council has the mandate of strengthening the Christian faith and commitment, especially among the children and to enhance their faith to live appropriately in the contemporary world growing in the knowledge of the scripture and witness to the Reign of God. Through this process we encourage the students throughout the country to grow in Scripture and faith.
In addition, it facilitates Ecumenical witness and the unity of the church. The focus areas at present are Christian education at Sunday schools and State schools, which places a heavy demand on time, resources and personnel.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION IN SUNDAY SCHOOLS
The goal is to be relevant for the present times enabling children to face contemporary challenges while growing in faith with adequate commitment to discipleship sustained by an appropriate spirituality.
Revised Sunday School Curriculum
The revised Sunday School Curriculum also known as the New Curriculum was published during the previous reporting period after years of hard work and countless number of hours days and months. The next stage of that process was to finalise the Teacher Guides for grades 6-11. It is with great joy that we report the publication of the teacher guides for grades 6-9 and that the books for grades 10 & 11 are in the process of being finalized and the final editing is in progress in the English medium. This achievement has been possible in spite of the many hardships during the year and the prolonged lockdown. The ‘Teachers Guide Book’ for grades 6-9 was printed in all three languages and nearly 4800 copies have been printed.
This entire process has taken nearly five years with sheer hard work by more than one hundred people involved at different stages of the process. We are deeply indebted to everyone for their tireless and voluntary work for the Council and for the ministry among the children for which we sincerely thank God. We offer our praise to God for enabling us to see through the important but difficult task and we pray that this will be an appropriate tool in the hands of committed teachers to enable the children to grow in faith, strengthen the child in mission and witness and also to enhance the joint witness and unity by using a common syllabus appropriate to all our Churches.
We received the following feedback through the members of the constituent church representatives at the Commission for Christian Education.
Church of Ceylon – Acknowledgingthe positivity of the entire Syllabus needto address few errors for the grade 3Work Book and the suggestion for oneWork Book for each grade in all threelanguages.
Methodist Church – Gradual implementation for the New Sunday School Curriculum in their respective Sunday Schools.
The Salvation Army – Necessary Teacher Training on the New Syllabus with implementation on the New Curriculum in their respective Sunday Schools.
Church of South India – Acknowledging positive approach for ecumenical journey, the New Curriculum is widely used in their respective churches.
Church of the American Ceylon Mission – Appreciating the work in preparing the children in their faith, the New Curriculum is widely used with appropriate Teacher Training.
Baptist Church – Gradual implementation of the New Sunday School Curriculum. Sunday Schools from the Presbyterian Church, Lutheran Church, Assembly of God and Foursquare Gospel church are also using the syllabus. Apart from the NCCSL Churches some independent churches are also using the new curriculum.
Training of Trainers (TOT) for New Sunday School Curriculum
A Residential Training of Trainers programme (TOT) for Sunday School Resource persons was held on 26th, 27th & 28th September 2019 at Meth-Arana Center, Athurugiriya to familiarize and equip them on the New Curriculum and contemporary means of communication to children.
The purpose of the programme was to train selected resource persons who could then train Sunday School Teachers according to the New Curriculum published by NCCSL in the respective areas. The programme covered the following topics.
- Bible Studies
- Common Session regarding Sunday School New Curriculum
- Hand work Session
- Introduction to ‘Child Psychology (Identifying the child behavior)
- Peace Awareness and Conflict Transformation
The three day programme was presented very attractively and creatively by the resource panel.
A total of 28 trainers from Methodist Church, Church of South India Church, Church of the American Ceylon Mission Church, Assemblies of God Church and the Foursquare Gospel Church were trained through the programme.
Resource Panel – Rev. Maxwell Doss, Rev. Mihiri De Silva, Rev. Joshua Ratnam, Rev. Andrias Fernando, Rev. V. Pathmatahyalan, Rev. Sujithar Sivanayakam, Ms. Sakunthala Rodrigo, Ms. Vanaja Rajkumar, Ms. Champika De Silva, Ms. Subhashini Peiris, Mr. Trivo Fonseka and Mr. S. Balakrishnan
Sunday School Final Examination 2019
Sunday School Final examination was held on 09th November 2019 and 104 candidates from 25 Sunday schools of various churches registered for the exam which is recognized by the government. 99% candidates passed the examination.
Training of Sunday School Teachers
Teachers were provided an opportunity for training that would introduce them to the systems and methodologies, instructions on Teacher Guides and the new syllabuses, and especially the purpose, duty and the mission they have undertaken as a Sunday school teacher.
Teacher Training Programmes on the Revised New Sunday School Curriculum are as follows;
|03rd Nov 2019||Assemblies of God’s Church – Negombo||Ms. Subahashini Perera and Ms. Sakunthala Rodrigo||Sinhala|
|13th Jan 2020||Church of South India||Ms. Champika De Silva||Sinhala|
|08th Feb 2020||Salvation Army Church, Col 2||Rev. Mihiri De Silva Ms. Sakunthala Rodrigo||Sinhala|
|07th March 2020||Assemblies of God’s Church – Nuwara Eliya||Rev. V. Pathmathayalan||Tamil|
Sunday School Lessons – Video Clips
Following the ‘lockdown’ situation, NCCSL initiated a process of recording the Sunday school lessons into individual video clips, of 15- 20 minutes duration of each. These are now available for students and teachers via official Council web site (www.nccsl.org). Considering the need, the grade 11 syllabus was initially completed with 25 lessons. The grade 10 syllabus is now in the process of being recorded catering to the ordinary level students. The plan is to prepare video lessons for all grades in the future. The lessons have been presented by recognized teachers within the NCCSL framework, and at present the videos are only available in the Sinhala medium. Plans are underway to record lessons in Tamil language as well.
During the reporting period several key achievements have been recorded along with the Sunday School education mandate in keeping the momentum of the Revised Curriculum that was printed the year before. Follow up training, developing the resource pool and expanding the Teacher Guide to grades 9 & 10 have been key amongst the work carried out. The exploration into the video lessons have been a positive that surfaced during this difficult period.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION IN State Schools
Christian education in state schools are promoted and strengthened through the following
- Placement of volunteer teachers to teach Christianity in state schools
- Training of existing Christianity teachers – training provided in coordination with the Ministry of Education
- Provision of term test papers for government schools. This enables Christian students to sit for the Christianity subject in the term test rather than missing out the exam and losing marks. This also ensures that their overall class aggregates are not affected.
- O/L Christianity Revision seminars
- A/L Christianity Revision seminars
- Liaise with the National Institute of Education (NIE) for the preparation of the ‘Teacher Guide Book’s and with the Ministry of Education for the ‘Student Text Books’ in Sinhala and Tamil mediums
NCCSL conducts several programmes to systematically provide education and provide a qualification for teachers to volunteer. The three main study programmes are CSK, NCRK and the REDC programme.
- CSK – Certificate in Scripture Knowledge – This new examination has been introduced to cater to those who have not sat the examination for Christianity (Non-RC) at the G.C.E. Ordinary level. This examination will enable them to qualify to sit for NCRK examinations.
The examination was held on 25th January 2020. One hundred and twenty six (126) candidates registered for the exam and 87 candidates sat for the same. 100% candidates passed the examination.
- NCRK – National Certificate of Religious Knowledge – The National Certificate of Religious Knowledge (NCRK) qualification is officially recognized by the Ministry of Education and is a compulsory requirement to enter the College of Education and to teach Christianity in schools.
NCRK examination was held on 12th October 2019. Three hundred and thirty- nine (339) candidates were registered for the NCRK examination and 281 candidates sat for the examination. Two hundred and eighty one (281) candidates passed the examination.
Workshops for NCRK Examination
NCRK examination workshops were successfully held in five centers on 3rd, 4th & 5th October 2019 and 211 participated. According to the evaluations and the feedback from the coordinators and the resource persons, candidates were able to enhance their knowledge on the syllabus.
|Venue||Areas covered||Date||Medium||No of Participants|
|Colombo||Colombo,Katunayaka, Moratuwa, Ratnapura, Ampara||4th & 5th October 2019||Sinhala & Tamil||59|
|Kurunegala||Kurunegala, Kandy, Anuradhapura,Vavuniya Bandarawela.||3rd & 4th October 2019||Sinhala||53|
|Batticaloa||Batticaloa, Thirukkovil, Trincomalee||4th & 5th October 2019||Tamil||50|
|Vavuniya||Vavuniya, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar||4th & 5th October 2019||Tamil||28|
|Hatton||Kandy, Kurunegala, Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela||4th & 5th October 2019||Tamil||21|
REDC – Religious Education Diploma Certificate Examination – This one-year advanced diploma course is open to all Christian teachers and lay leaders. A structured 10 modular teaching programme is conducted to prepare candidates for the examination. Candidates are trained to think and articulate in theological terms and the course will support them through higher education and work in the churches.
REDC seminars for 2019/2020 were conducted in Colombo, Kurunegala, Batticaloa, Hatton and Jaffna. Examination for the 2018/2019 batch were held on 14th July 2019. Seventy (70) candidates registered and sixty five candidates sat for the exam. Over 88.5% candidates (62) passed the examination.
The exam scheduled on 11th July 2020 for the batch 2019/ 2020 was postponed due to Covid -19 which did not permit to complete the seminars before the scheduled period. The seminars for the above course were coordinated through our coordinators in respective areas.
Volunteer Christianity Teachers at State Schools
The purpose of this work is to provide a quality Christian education in government schools, especially in rural areas where teachers are not available to teach Christianity. The volunteer teachers are appointed in coordination with state authorities to schools where there are no teachers to teach Christianity. The volunteer teachers are provided a very basic allowance to cover their travel and incidental expenses.
The outcome is to ensure the formation of the Christian children in their faith especially in the rural areas and to sustain their faith and knowledge in God and Scriptures. The volunteer teachers teach Christianity from grades 1 to 13.
Currently there are 105 Volunteer Teachers and 09 coordinators that teach over 5,000 students following Christianity as a subject in schools. The volunteer teacher’s performances are monitored by NCCSL and coordinated with the State Department of Education. Regional Coordinators are appointed to visit schools and liaise with the Principals, to include regular teaching of Christianity in the Time Table and to monitor attendance and other relevant details.
The following direct impacts have been identified during the reported period;
- Over 5,000 children are able to study Christianity as per the government syllabus.
- Over 95% of the students who study under the volunteer teachers have passed their exams.
- The student’s class averages have increased with Christianity being methodically taught as a subject in class enabling students to score marks at the term exams for Christianity.
- The scriptural knowledge and faith of the students have improved significantly.
- Christian students who were previously forced to study a different religion are now studying Christianity as their first preference.
- Christian student’s right to study the religion of their choice was guaranteed.
- Relationship between schools and NCCSL has strengthened.
- Over 100 Volunteer teachers were trained to teach Christianity subject effectively for children in State schools.
Christianity Teacher Training Programme
The teacher training programme was held on 14th & 15th February 2020 at Meegoda Resource Center, organized by the Ministry of Education for the Western Province Christianity teachers of the Sinhala medium. Around 30 teachers participated in the programme. Teachers were trained under different topics related to the teaching of Christianity. Ms. Nilanthi De Silva coordinated the programme. These trainings formerly conducted for regular teachers have now been extended to the volunteer teachers according to a decision taken at the Religious Advisory Committee meetings, therefore, the Council was able to conduct teacher training seminars for the volunteer Christianity teachers in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
Liaising with State Institutions
The NCCSL continues to liaise with the National Institute of Education (NIE) for the preparation of the ‘Teacher Guide Book’s and with the Ministry of Education for the ‘Student Text Books’ in Sinhala and Tamil mediums.
The NCCSL continues to link with the Ministry of Education, through the Christian Advisory Committee. There was an advisory committee meeting held during the year on 02nd September 2019. The Minister of Education chaired the meeting and Secretary of Ministry of Education and Director of the Department of Religion also participated.
According to the request made by the Council, Ms. Nilanthi De Silva, Vice Principal of Methodist Girls High school, Puwak Aramba Moratuwa, was appointed as a Christianity Coordinator for Christianity (Non-Roman Catholic) at the Ministry of Education, Religious Values Department, while continuing teaching at the school. This was a great achievement for NCCSL to enhance Christian Education in State Schools. We thank the Ministry of Education for their support to fulfil the task.
Christian Advisory Committee 2020
- Rev. Maxwell Doss
- Rev. Heshan De Silva
- Rt.Rev. Dhiloraj R. Canagasabey
- Rt.Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando
- Rev. Asiri P. Perera
- Rev. Shirly Faber
- Rev. Saman Perera
- Rev. Priyantha Wijegoonawardana
- Rev. V. Pathmathayalan
- Rev. Mihiri De Silva
- Ven. Samuel Ponnaiah
- Rev. Dhushantha Rodrigo
- Ms. Hemamali Bibile
- Ms. Hiranya G.Fernando
- Ms. D.S.Dharshini
- Ms. Nilanthi De Silva
Term test exam papers to schools
Term test papers were provided to schools for three terms for the schools that requested papers. This enabled Christian students to sit for the Christianity subject in the term tests rather than missing out the exam and this also ensured that their overall class aggregates were not affected unlike in the past.
Ordinary Level Christianity Revision seminars
The Christianity revision seminars were conducted to enable the students to revise the syllabus and obtain the skills and methodology of understanding the question and answering them. There were 16 Christianity O/L seminars conducted for students in Sinhala, English and Tamil medium in Kandy, Colombo, Hatton and Galle. Six hundred and ten (610) students benefited through these seminars. These seminars were conducted in accordance with the Ordinary Level Syllabus. According to the evaluations, these seminars have been very helpful for the students.
|Wesley College – Colombo ( 3 seminars)||26th Oct 2019|
|Methodist Church – Kallar||26th Oct 2019|
|Wesley High School – Kalmunai||11th Oct 2019|
|Methodist Church – Komari||12th Oct 2019|
|Methodist Church, Akkarapathu||28th Sept 2019|
|St. Thomas’s College – Bandarawela||28th Oct 2019|
|Methodist Church – Thirukkovil||28th Oct 2019|
|St. Joseph’s Church, Maskeliya||1st Nov 2019|
|Highlands College – Hatton||2nd Nov 2019|
|Methodist Church, Mannar||12th Nov 2019|
|Salvation Army Church, Galle||12th Nov 2019|
|Holy Emmanuel Church Balangoda||20th Nov 2019|
|St. Johns College – Jaffna||25th Nov 2019|
Advanced Level Christianity Revision Seminars There were four A/L Christianity seminars conducted in the months of June and July 2019 in Colombo, Hatton, Thirukkovil and Batticaloa. One hundred and eighty-eight (188) Advanced Level students participated in these seminars. These seminars were conducted according to the new Advanced Level Syllabus. Most of the students who participated in these seminars requested to extending the seminar days up to 3 or 4 days.