Tong-Len opened a primary school on the 21st August within the hostel premises as a pilot project. There are 74 children between the ages of three and ten in the school, 50 from the hostel and 24 are day pupils from the slums. Currently the school has three classes – pre-first, primary 1 and primary 2. There are plans to add a new classroom in April 2018 and increase the school size to 115 pupils. The pilot programme is under the overall direction of Navita, the hostel manager and head academic coordinator.
As well as academic study following the national school curriculum, there are a range of activities to promote the social, emotional, ethical and physical development of the children. Recently the children enjoyed a planting lesson in the Tong-Len greenhouse which had a lovely joint message on growing vegetables in the greenhouse and the importance of cultivating their minds. There was great fun also at a lesson about animals and zoos where a monkey and a chicken were brought into the classroom.
It is almost impossible for the poorest children in the region to attain education, and when they do, the focus tends to be on basic literacy and rote learning. Tong-Len believes that providing quality, holistic education to slum children will give them the opportunity for a life without begging, stealing or rubbish collecting – and it will also produce young adults who will contribute back to their families and to society at large.
Tong-Len’s vision is to buy land and build a primary school with a capacity for up to 600 students. It will provide quality education to slum and disadvantaged children ensuring they reach their academic potential and also develop them to be problem solvers, digitally aware, and good human beings. Fund raising will start soon.