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The Basic English Program aims to teach Spoken English and English grammar to young students who wish to learn the basics of English. The program runs for 4 hours each weekend from September to December and acts as a confidence building tools for students.

As the school currently has excess enrollment, this program also gives the staff a chance to look at potential students' behaviors and attendance records to ensure that decisions made on acceptances to this program will be as informed as possible and lead to maximum student development. The students who do not secure a place on the diploma course gain 12 weeks of professional and accessible English lessons.

In addition, the percentage of students dropping out of the main diploma program has been reducing, the result of students increasing their self-esteem in speaking English as a result of completing the BEP.

The BEP takes place at the Tea Leaf Vision Centere for Professional Development in Maskeliya, Central Province, Sri Lanka. The project is taught by the teachers of the center. Interns from the Advanced Diploma work as teaching assistants, gaining valuable experience and receiving a small stipend to help with the poverty their families face.


The Basic English Program has existed as a tool for preparation and selection since TLV's founding and has supported 826 students. The Tea Leaf Vision Centre for Professional Development opened in January 2010 and the main diploma has seen over 500 full-time students graduate.


The students are young men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 who are unmarried and unemployed. Students are from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds but the majorities are tea plantation Indian Tamils in line with the demographic of the region. Over 76% of students in the BEP live off less than $1 a day. The social problems and poverty that exist are complex, with focus groups estimating that over 80% of the male tea-picking populations are alcoholics (World Vision, 2009) and approximately 83% of the females experiencing or having experienced domestic violence. To compound this, the educational provision for this remote community is the worst in Sri Lanka, with a particular weakness being the quality of English this is a critical component of finding fairly paid work. The young adults therefore remain trapped within the tea estate system or take exploitative and dangerous work as domestic servants or laborers on building sites. The BEP addresses this poverty and oppression by giving the grounding and foundation for students to succeed on the main diploma, from where 80% of graduates go on to further study or to find employment within 6 months of completing the course. The confidence bred by the BEP has dramatically reduced the drop-out rate of the main diploma from 13% in 2013 to the current 5% so far in 2014 batch.

Team Credentials

The Project Director of Tea Leaf Trust is Tim Pare, who has obtained a Masters in Poverty Reduction and Development Management and has been the Director of a national education charity in England. Tim is also a qualified Employment Manager and has worked as a Learning Mentor, Social Worker and has taught English abroad. The Tea Leaf Trust Board of Trustees includes over 50 years of educational experience as well as 30+ years of legal knowledge with additional skills including Human Resource management and marketing.
In Sri Lanka, the Tea Leaf Vision Centre is run by a team of 4 skilled and talented managers who are led by Yadharshini Selvaraj, an inspirational female role model within this traditional community. These managers have all qualified through the British Council's Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT). Tea Leaf Trust invests heavily in the professional development of its staff and the 11 teachers (all whom have studied the main and advanced diplomas themselves) are all in the process of gaining their TKT qualifications. The school also has 5 staff that are qualified counselors.