"Gateway InnovaThon" a new initiative by Dialog and Gateway College

Dialog Enterprise, the corporate solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, recently recognized Gateway College as a ‘Dialog DigiEdu Model School’. Gateway InnovaThon is the very first initiative through this partnership, where winners from Gateway will be eligible to participate at future National and International App Challenges.

Through this novel social innovation competition, Dialog Axiata PLC will encourage young entrepreneurs develop innovative solutions to solve social and environmental challenges. The competition goes beyond simply offering prize money and includes non-financial support in the form of business accelerator services through training, mentoring and coaching.

The competition open to all Gateway Colleges from Years 3 to 13 (Ages from 7+ to 17+) has already attracted over 700 participants. Students take part in teams of 2 to 4 in two categories: World Citizenship where they develop technology solutions to contribute to the community through a particular service and Gaming Category where they ideate a game to solve a problem.

During the first briefing students of all five Gateway Colleges were introduced to the concept of social innovation and how it can help smart generations to explore newer effective solutions or advance existing solutions to better versions. The ongoing competition has had over 250 entries and Dialog is set to announce the shortlisted teams after a rigorous screening process. These teams will then be mentored and coached by the Ideamart and Innovation Foundry teams to polish their ideas into fruition and enter the Finals of the competition in November.

The selected solutions will be nurtured to Go-To-Market (G2M) through the Dialog’s Innovation foundry and Ideamart so that the winning teams can pitch their ideas to the world. Dialog and Gateway hope to announce the winners at an Awards Ceremony that will be held at the end of the year.

Gateway felicitates its Coach for making Sri Lanka proud

Pradeep Nishantha, Assistant Head of Sports of Gateway College Colombo was felicitated by the Gateway Colleges for his remarkable contribution to the country in producing two medal winners at the recently held Paralympic Games in Japan. The Sri Lankan national song was played for the very first time at an Olympics when Dinesh Priyantha Herath who was trained by Pradeep Nishantha won a gold medal with a new world record. Pradeep has been working at Gateway since 2005 as a part time coach and since 2015 as a full timer and has been responsible for producing many national athletes from Gateway.

As an organization that is committed to the development of sports, Gateway’s Directorate believes that the ultimate beneficiaries of all investments they make should be the athletes and the country. All Gateway’s coaches who are responsible for national squads are provided with duty leave to represent the country at international events. Many of the school's facilities which have been built to international standards are offered free of charge, if ever the national squads require them for practices.

Gateway students are blessed to be coached and guided by professionals of the highest caliber. Thilaka Jinadasa, the Team Leader – Sports development for the entire group was the very first female Olympian to represent Sri Lanka in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and is also a double International athlete who represented Sri Lanka in both Athletics and Netball. Under her guidance, as a national netball coach, Sri Lanka won the Asian Netball Championship title twice in 2009 and 2018. She also served as National Netball Coach for the national teams of Maldives and Brunei Darussalam. Among Gateway’s team of coaches are a number of top Sri Lankan coaches. Tharindu Fernando, who was recently appointed National Basketball Coach for the Under 23 Sri Lankan side is among them. Other coaches who have provided their services at national level are Y K Kularatne (Athletics), Dhanushka Fernando (Badminton), Ruwan Satharasinghe (Karate), Sharen Kannangara (Rowing), C H Thalagala (Squash), Chandana Perera (Table Tennis), Ganendran Subramaniam (Tennis) and Anurudhdha Wijesinghe (Basketball).

Gateway’s investment and commitment to sports over the years has been exemplary. The school offers state-of-the-art facilities that are of international standard. They include the only 50 metre swimming pool among International Schools in Sri Lanka, which is situated in the Negombo school; the football pitch and the beautiful pavilion built in the Ratmalana school, the badminton and squash courts of the Colombo school and the modern basketball and netball courts in Rajagiriya, Nawala, Kandy and Dehiwala. There are newly built tennis courts in Rajagiriya, Kandy and Nawala. A nine acre sports complex is currently being developed in Seeduwa that will include a large ground with 5 cricket pitches and ample space for football, rugby and athletics (with a 400 metre track). The sports complex that was recently opened in Kandy offers facilities for athletics, tennis, cricket, football and netball. A 50 metre swimming pool is also being constructed in Kandy.

Gateway College launches first ever Inter House Virtual Festival of Sports

In the Primary and Secondary Educational Sectors, Sports and physical education for children have suffered one of the biggest setbacks during the extended closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns. However, Gateway College with its usual spirit of enterprise, has met this challenge undeterred, to provide its students with alternatives for Sports Education.

Aware that, if designed appropriately, online physical education may have the potential to mitigate this drawback, Gateway College has continued with Physical Education (PE) classes on the online timetable from the origin of the COVID-19 situation, experimenting in and innovating methods by which sports skills could be practised at home. The Gateway schools have also consistently held live sessions wherein children interacted with their trainers through multiple videoconferencing tools during the lockdowns.

Moving further forward, with the hope of preventing health disparities (which are a very real concern in restrictive lockdowns) related to unequal opportunities for Physical Activity Engagement, partly due to unequal access to technology, adult supervision and support, sports equipment, and physical space for physical activity, the Gateway PE teachers and trainers have put together an online programme of Inter- House Sports competitions in Badminton, Basketball, Chess, Cricket, Football, Karate, Netball, Rowing, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis and Tennis, culminating in a Pentathlon, spearheaded by Ms. Thilaka Jinadasa, Team Leader – Sports Development for the group. The Virtual Festival of Sports (V-FOS) to be conducted during a space of two weeks in October, will motivate children to compete through a point system. The programmes can be logged into and monitored by the trainers and the school management.

In conducting the competitions, 5 students per age group, per house are allowed to participate except in Chess where only 4 participants will be allowed. 2 reserves can be entered per event. Each participant can only participate in one age category and 2 activities will be given for each age group. The competitions are based on uploading videos on Flipgrid while the time duration for uploading of videos is 48 hours from the time of announcement of the competition. To illustrate very briefly, in the Cricket programme, each participant will be given a time period to tap the ball with the bat and keep a record of how many taps are done without dropping the ball. Similarly, Badminton has a Shuttle Bouncing Challenge and a Wall Tapping Challenge. Basketball will have Circuit Challenges for passing the ball round the head and the waist, and Dribbling. For Rowing, the challenges are Leap Frog and Bicycle Crunches.

During the past one and a half years, Gateway College has ensured that the holistic education it provides continues uninterrupted, albeit online, led by the school’s Principals and the Management whose drive and energy influences all members of staff to take new initiatives for the continuing development of its most important stakeholders – the students.

When Western countries had a greater number of infected cases, they kept the schools open – Professor Neelika Malawige

Referring to the information about school closures available on the United Nations website on Education, Prof. Malawige pointed out that even when Western countries had a far larger number of infected cases, the schools were kept open. For example, in November 2020 when UK had large waves of Covid-19 the schools were open. However, schools in Sri Lanka remained closed. In May 2021 only 23 countries in the world had school closures and Sri Lanka was one of them. At present, in Sep 2021, only 15 countries including Sri Lanka have complete closure of schools. She raised the question whether we can wait till all children are vaccinated before we send them to school.

Gateway College organised a special session by Professor Neelika Malawige, Professor and Head of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, University of Sri Jayawardenapura, on ‘The COVID situation in Sri Lanka and the impact on Schooling’ on Friday, 3 rd September. This virtual session was open to the entire Gateway community; teachers, parents, past pupils and students.

Professor Malawige began on a very positive note by saying that the current lockdown appears to be having an effect with the number of calls to the Covid-19 call centres decreasing and that the effect of this will show in 2 to 3 weeks’ time. Referring to international studies on the subject, she pointed out that children have a lower risk of being hospitalized and dying from Covid-19 in comparison to adults and that is the reason why vaccination programmes all over the world have focused on the older sections of the population. She also explained that Covid-19 related deaths among children are due to the same risk factors as in adults such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, cancer and so on. Also in babies of 0 to 3 months.

She also addressed the effect of school closures on children. Education, she said, may not be much affected in international schools but the situation isn’t the same in government schools. She also reminded that Education is only one aspect of school. It is the other aspects of schooling that are the more important reasons for students to go to school and these have been taken away right now with devastating effects.

Prof. Malawige further pointed out that even now, only a few countries immunize children due to them being a low-risk segment of the population. Countries that are vaccinating 12 to 18 year olds are countries such as France, Denmark, Italy, Spain and Poland. On the other hand, in UK, 16 to 17 year old healthy children have only been given 1 dose because of the rare incidence of myocarditis mainly in males of 12 to 17 years after the second dose. But if 12 to 15 year olds are high risk or have an immunocompromised person at home they are vaccinated.

She reiterated that Sri Lanka has had more school closures than any other country in the world despite much lower case/death rates. Also, that in other countries schools opened way before children were vaccinated and she reminded that children have a low risk of severe disease as well. She pointed out that Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF has said that reopening schools cannot wait. Towards the end of her talk, Prof. Malawige also answered questions raised by the audience on such practical aspects as what kind of masks should be used and the efficacy of various vaccines. She asked the parent community to think about the practical aspects of waiting until children above 12 years are vaccinated before opening schools in Sri Lanka. She pointed out that this could take as long as January 2022 or beyond and that this may not be a very practical approach to take.

Gateway students rejoice the completion of AL and IGCSE with outstanding results

During a year that has been like no other, Gateway students supported by the dedicated management and teachers, lived up to the school’s vision of ‘Energize, Enlighten, Empower’ by completing most of the year's activities online, covering all syllabuses fully, sitting for physical examinations and obtaining excellent grades. Advanced Level (AS and AL) and IGCSE 2021 results that have just been released highlight many stellar performances among Gateway students that include 44 students receiving 3 or more A Stars at A2, 64 students receiving 3 As or more at AS and 81 students receiving 7 Grade 9s or more at IGCSE.

This year, in which grades were awarded through Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs of Edexcel) and School Assessed Grades (SAGs of Cambridge), the schools were required to propose grades that could be supported with adequate evidence. During the months of April and May, Gateway students were courageous to sit for mock examinations (two mock exams in certain subjects) as well as the unseen papers (sent by Edexcel) physically in school. This assisted the teachers and the school to have a portfolio of evidence to decide on the most appropriate grades for every child. The school’s centre policy as well as all grades proposed by the school being accepted by both awarding bodies with no questions asked, not only highlighted Gateway’s professionalism but also justified its standing as the only school in Sri Lanka to have ‘Associate Centre’ status from both Edexcel and Cambridge.