Education Embodied With Diversity and Innovation – Director of Admissions at the Overseas School of Colombo (Osc), Kanchana De Silva

Driven by the pursuit towards the betterment of the education industry, Kanchana de Silva, the Director of Admissions at The Overseas School of Colombo (OSC), highlights her path as a leader in the education sector. Kanchana started her career as an ambitious young woman and has grown into a professional holding 25+ years of experience in the education industry. Working her way up among leading entities in the industry and acquiring the exposure to deal with foreign delegates and universities that the institution is affiliated with, Kanchana possesses a wide range of experience, from administration, corporate communications, to marketing, and even business development. Currently, she is utilizing all that she has gathered during her journey, to make sure that OSC is driven forward with exemplary results.

OSC stands as Sri Lanka’s oldest internationally accredited educational institution and the only school to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme from Early Years to Grade 12. The IB programme gives students a distinct advantage by building their critical thinking skills, nurturing their curiosity, and their ability to solve complex problems.

The Primary School is made up of Early Years to Grade 5 and follows the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), which is transdisciplinary and aims to develop the child in a variety of student-centered, inquiry-based units. The Secondary School follows the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) for Grades 6 to 10 and the IB Diploma Programme (DP) for Grades 11 and 12, allowing students the benefit of an academic continuum, while also providing opportunities that meet the needs of internationally mobile students. OSC is fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA) and has had a triumphant journey in Sri Lanka for the past 65 years!

Furthermore, OSC prides itself in providing a holistic educational experience, inclusive of sports and other extracurricular activities. Service Learning is part of the IB curriculum and is an integral aspect of the culture at OSC. Service is a requirement at all grade levels where students recognise specific needs within the community, work with members of the community to plan appropriate responses to those needs, and act ethically to meet them.

“Classes at OSC are small in size, maintaining a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:6, allowing personalized attention. This creates a warm and friendly relationship between students and teachers, providing a positive and trusting teacher-student rapport”, Kanchana elaborates.

Although the pandemic alarmed many organizations to move towards online virtual meetings and learning sessions, OSC had made prior investments in technology, way before the pandemic, and was progressing through seamless operations across the school, enhancing 21st-century teaching and learning. At OSC, technology is integrated throughout the school. Students are provided with school-owned technology devices from Early Years through Grade 4 and the Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) programme was introduced for students from Grade 5 to 12 where students are required to bring a laptop to class daily and use technology on a regular basis. All students and teachers are provided with a Google Apps for Education account, allowing students and teachers to collaborate, communicate, and do classwork digitally, while interacting with cloud storage.

OSC has a student body with native speakers of many different languages. The Mother Tongue programme in the MYP and the School Supported Self Taught (SSST) in the DP provides its students with an opportunity to study their mother tongue within the existing school system.

“OSC is a culturally diverse school. Our community consists of 40+ nationalities and together we aim to live up to our motto – ‘Unity in Diversity’. An appreciation for diversity can be realized only when it is valued.” At OSC, diversity and respect for differences are the cornerstone of their mission and their approach to teaching and learning and acknowledges multilingualism as a strong asset.

At OSC, the ethos for improvement and exciting initiatives never ends. Their mission stands by three attributes: Compassion, Courage, and Curiosity. Elaborating on their Vision, Kanchana states, “At OSC we live our mission by creating space and time for learners to engage in mutually respectful and enriching connections; teaching intercultural understanding, development and competencies; fostering a culture of learning that sparks joy, thinking, and inquiry; nurturing personal identity so every learner feels a sense of belonging, inviting all learners to persevere in their learning journey.”

OSC is determined to actively pursue its 5 Year Strategic Plan focusing on global goals such as World, Purpose, Power, Change, and Story, and identify how their mission, vision and values, diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, anti-racism, high quality learning model, and systems thinking play out across all the five lenses. To ensure world class facilities, OSC continues to develop their facility, renovate key areas of the school, and update and modernize classrooms and learning spaces.

OSC plans on bringing back to life its competitive Gecko Athletics programme with the South Asian Inter-Scholastic Association (SAISA), and the local TISSL organization and also intends on strengthening their community partnerships post-COVID.

The school will continue to ensure that all their decisions from parents to the Board, to teachers and support staff, are all about their learners. OSC will continue to remain learner-focused to ensure that their students benefit from a collective efficacy and believes that OSC can truly succeed in it!

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