International Forum for Parents conducted for the first time in Sri Lanka

Parenting in the 21 st century offers challenges like never before. Violence, social disorder and sexuality are common treats and influences that are likely to condition the mindset of children. Proper education and parenting are two main lines of defense and protection against that negative elements that threaten the well-being of children and families.

The inaugural International Forum for Parents held under the theme – ‘Engaged Parents, Empowered Children’ at the BMICH, Colombo addressed the critical issues on parenting, education and the impact of parenting on children’s wellbeing and success. The event organized by the Gateway Graduate School and supported by the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus and Pearson Edexcel brought together an array of international and Sri Lankan experts to discuss and share expertise on issues related to children’s education and wellbeing that challenge both parents and children.

Prof. Ganakumaran Subramaniam, Head of School of Education at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus spoke on the topic, Further Education Choices: what parents should know. His presentation discussed the dilemmas many parents and children face in deciding education and career choices. The session touched on the following questions;

  • What makes some children so decisive and others frustratingly indecisive?
  • Are the decisions of decisive children the right ones?
  • Should parents support these choices? Why? How?
  • What should parents do with indecisive children?
  • How can parents help them?

The session highlighted the key factors and people that are likely to influence the children’s education behavior and decision making of your children. These included the role and influence of parents and family; school and teachers; peers and friends; significant others; the environment and exposure; and self-awareness.

Hans Billimoria Hans Billimoria, the Director of The Grassrooted Trust, an organization that works on prevention of gender-based and intimate partner violence, including cyber exploitation and violence, presented a session that forced the audience into deep soul searching and reflection on their parenting styles, skills and priorities. In the session entitled, The disconnect between parents and young people in the age of social media, he presented on cyber exploitation and violence (CEV) in Sri Lanka and the role of the parent in helping prevent abuse and violence toward children. He warned the audience by stating that the perpetrators of CEV are most often boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, team mates, other young people your child may know - not nameless adults. The session suggested how parent can be vigilant and protect their children against such crimes.

Dr. Daniel Seal, a Chartered Clinical Psychologist from the UK. and a faculty member of School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, spoke on the topic, How to manage common problems in childhood & adolescence. The session highlighted how childhood can be a confusing and difficult time for children and teenagers and how parents it is often difficult to know what to do to help. He introduced the audience to some of the strategies and techniques that clinical psychologists use to manage common childhood problems. He described how we can respond to the problems young people using real cases as examples.

The climax of the Forum was panel session designed to engage the audience in an interactive discussion to address key public concerns related to parenting and education. The members of the panel were Mrs. Nirmali Wickramasinghe, consultant to the Gateway Group of Schools, Ms. Soundarie David Soundarie, Founder and Music Director of Sri Lanka’s premiere female ensemble, ‘Soul Sounds’, Mr. Julian Bolling Julian is the Head Coach of Rainbow Aquatics and the Director of the Rainbow Swimming Academy, Mr. Ted Muttiah, Chief Commercial Officer of South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) in the Port of Colombo Sri Lanka, and Mr. Aravinda De Silva, Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning cricketer. The panel session was moderated by Prof. Ganakumaran Subramaniam of the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus.

Gateway’s tie-up with Embry-Riddle to open up new opportunities in Aeronautical and Aviation Studies

With the recent signing of an MoU, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is to provide novel ways to expose high school students of Sri Lanka to the field of aviation and aerospace education. Gateway wishes to extend these opportunities, not only to their students, but to anyone who is passionate to make a difference and fulfil their dreams and aspirations.

As part of the understanding, Embry-Riddle faculty will visit Gateway College twice a year to conduct interactive workshops on aviation related topics. As a first step, the Dean of Aeronautics of Embry- Riddle Worldwide, Dr Kenneth Witcher is expected to be in Sri Lanka in the second week of September 2017 to do an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Workshop. The target audience for the workshop will be 16-18 year-olds. He will also make general presentations and a demonstrations of the UAV (drone) to large audiences of middle school students.

Among the other plans are to conduct an aviation/aerospace related competition among the Gateway group of schools and colleges where the winners would be provided with the opportunity to visit the campus. The requirement will be for students to design flying machines after receiving guidance in the understanding of basic aerodynamics.

Through this agreement, from July 2018, the aviation enthusiasts in Sri Lanka will have the opportunity of attending summer camps at the Singapore campus. During these camps, students will not only attend classes on aeronautics and aviation business taught by Embry-Riddle faculty, but will also engage in industry visits to aviation companies to understand their operations and meet senior aviation professionals.

Plans are also afoot to assist students to enrol in free/paid beginner-level online learning programs. An example is the Aviation 101, which is a free online Introduction to the Aviation Course. Students can proceed at their own pace to learn fundamentals that will give them a head start to their aviation higher education. This course is comprised of nine video lessons, which will introduce them to a variety of topics in aviation such as Aircraft Systems, Aerodynamics, Flight Instruments, Airports, Airspace, Radio Communication & ATC, Aeromedical, Aviation Weather and Performance & Navigation.

The agreement will also facilitate students of Gateway to progress to Embry-Riddle’s bachelors’ degree programs after completing Advanced Level or the International Foundation Diploma offered by the Gateway Graduate School.

Dr Graham Hunt, Head of Asia and Mr Matthew Flaherty, Executive Director of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Asia Campus along with Dr. Harsha Alles, Chairman, Mrs. Dinali Alles, Director and Mrs. Marzena Brzezniak, Deputy Principal of Gateway College Colombo during their recent meeting in Singapore.

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