LIRNEasia participated in the National Conference on COVID 19: Impact, Mitigation, Opportunities and Building Resilience, organized by the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka and held January 27 – 28 2021.
Sujata Gamage presented the paper “Innovations in Teaching and Learning in Distance Mode during COVID-19 in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh” coauthored with Moinul Zaber of Bangladesh. Surveying a sample of teachers from across the country they estimated the percent of students receiving online education in Sri Lanka to be 45%. Teachers who managed to reach their students mostly transmitted notes and assignment over WhatsApp technology. TV Lessons broadcast over Government TV channels were not effective because of a lack of links to teachers’ lesson plans. If teachers in Sri Lanka have more freedom to innovate, there are sufficient offline resources and low-tech connectivity to reach out to all students, they concluded. A sample of teachers select set of better endowed schools from Bangladesh revealed that they were able to contact 85% of students on average, and given the ability use more interactive technologies, teachers tried flipped classroom and other modes of blended learning which were not used in previous in-class teaching.
Ramathi Bandaranayake presented the paper “Risk Communication and Building Trust: Lessons from COVID-19.” The paper analyzed a sample of televised government communications related to COVID-19 from February 1 – March 31 2020 in Sri Lanka. This analysis was performed through the lens of a selection of guidelines from “Communicating risk in public health emergencies: A WHO guideline for emergency risk communication (ERC) policy and practice.” The paper emphasized the need to develop strategies to communicate uncertainties and unknowns associated with infectious disease outbreaks to the public. This study was done in collaboration with Deepanjalie Abeywardane and her team at Verité Research. LIRNEasia research interns Diane Sosa and Ruoqian Wang were also co-authors on this paper.