With education systems all over the world restricted due to the pandemic, we are now aware of the significance of the use of the internet and social media as tools in the basic education system of our country. It is at this crucial time that two innovative young minds developed a useful tool to assist in day-to-day studies and educational endeavours.
Help.lk was founded by med school dropout and young entrepreneur Harsha Abegunasekara and robotics engineering student Praveen Jayakody, who are lifelong friends.
This platform is aimed at making education accessible for everyone and digitalise volunteering. We spoke to Help.lk Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abegunasekara to find out more about their website and the inspiration behind this initiative.
Help.lk is a platform aimed at bringing the act of volunteering online, connecting volunteers with students who need small-scale, instant educational support. It works as an online easy volunteering platform for university students and professionals and an on-demand help platform for school students.
Speaking on this concept, Abegunasekara stated: “Sri Lankans like to help others and spread kindness, and since Covid-19 has made everyone homebound, we believe this is the best time to digitalise volunteering. Due to the lack of on-demand help for students, they are faced with many difficulties. With our platform, we have found a way for the community to help each other.”
We asked Abegunasekara what inspired him to start Help.lk, to which he said: “This idea came to me when my cousin asked me to help her with her math homework. However, I have been motivated to help people from a young age. I have been involved in beach clean-ups and other volunteering activities in the past few months as well.
“When the coronavirus halted everything, I decided to rethink of a way to continue supporting our community, utilising the resources we have – thus Help.lk was born.”
Interested volunteers are required to sign up with Help.lk; they will have to mark their availability next and finally do an MCQ (multiple choice question) test to certify themselves as qualified in the subjects they like to teach. Once the registration process is completed, they can simply forget about the platform and carry on with their day until they are needed.
Students seeking support via Help.lk can simply go to the website and sign up using their name, email, add a password, and request for help. They may choose the subject they require assistance in. For example, Ordinary Level (O/L) maths, science, IT, and English and Advanced Level (A/L) maths, biology, chemistry, physics, English, ICT, etc.
Once such a request is made and a student clicks the help button, volunteers will get a text message notification. If available, volunteers may click the link and help, or if not available, they can just ignore the message. In the latter scenario, the next volunteer will be contacted in the next 30 seconds, and so on; this will continue until a match is found, and then they will be instantly connected with a live tutor for free, in the form of an on-demand session.
Currently, with over 100 volunteers on board, Help.lk is ready to support you with your educational problems.
We were told that the platform will be available as a free service to start off. However, a coin system will be introduced in the future, where a student will get five to 10 free coins per week, which they can top up as they run out.
When asked about the benefits brought to the registered volunteers from this service, Abegunasekara told us that besides the feel-good factor, volunteers can benefit from a certifiable volunteering experience which the developers are working on providing them; this can be used when applying for employment and seeking university entrance. Furthermore, volunteers will be rewarded with coupons and prizes based on a point system that will be introduced in the near future.
When asked about the future plans for Help.lk, Abegunasekara told us that the site will also be available in Sinhala and Tamil in the near future and that the developers are working on an app for easy access. He further stated that once they establish a stable volunteer base, they will go global with their initiative and monetise the platform in order to bring in dollars and provide an opportunity for Sri Lankan youths to earn money.
You can visit www.help.lk to check it out.