No Limits for Preschoolers’ Futures

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 2.41.06 PM    Jeremy Soulliere

    Media & Communications Manager

    Save the Children US

                                    September 11, 2015

In a remote village in northern Vietnam, a young mother named Hang tells me her hopes for her 5-year-old daughter Mai’s future inside her family’s home. Above our heads, hundreds of corn cobs hang to dry – the product of the family’s daily hard work in the terraced agricultural fields surrounding their mountainous hometown in Lao Cai Province.

Ms. Kim and Mai 2

Preschool teacher Sung Thi Kim reads to one of her students, Mai, at Mai’s home in a remote farming village in northern Vietnam. Photo by Jeremy Soulliere / Save the Children.

For Mai, her mother wants a future where her daughter has the ability to decide her own path without a ceiling. A path where she may choose to stay in her home village and farm, or where she may go to college in the city and pursue a professional career.

The key for Mai to one day make such a decision is for her to get an early start on learning. And with the help of her preschool teacher, Sung Thi Kim, Mai is getting that chance in a community where nearly 50 percent of the villagers live under the poverty line, nearly 20 percent are illiterate, and many – including Hang – did not get the chance to be educated beyond primary school.

 Ms. Kim, who works at a Save the Children-supported preschool, is the community change maker we are highlighting this month as part of Save the Children’s #UpgradeYourWorld initiative with Microsoft and Windows 10.  You can watch a short video about her here, and read more about Upgrade Your World here.

Save the Children is collaborating with Ms. Kim and her colleagues to develop lesson plans, create learning materials, sharpen their teaching skills and increase support for early learning among parents and the community.

Ms. Kim, 29, told me she is inspired daily watching the children smile, play and learn, and thrives off teaching the kids fundamental skills that will help them succeed in school and in life.

Vietnam has 54 different minority languages, 27 of which do not have a written form, and as an ethnic minority, Ms. Kim understands the language barrier that some of her children have coming into her classroom.

She said she uses her native tongue, Nung, to help children learn Vietnamese, and asks children familiar with Vietnamese and other ethnic languages of the area to help translate for children who do not yet know Vietnamese.

She told me she hopes her students grow up to have rewarding professions and come back and contribute to their home village in some way.

Mai and Mother 2

Mai, a student at a Save the Children-supported preschool in northern Vietnam, sits with her mother Hang and removes kernels from corn her family has harvested. Photo by Jeremy Soulliere / Save the Children.

For Mai — whose native language, like her teacher, is Nung – her family has seen her transform since she’s gone to preschool. Once a shy girl who did not play with her siblings, she now actively interacts with them and is more independent at home, something the family credits to Ms. Kim and the preschool environment.

Mai is a long way from deciding what path in life she wants to take, but with the help of Ms. Kim, she has that early start on learning that will help ensure that decision will have no limit.

 

Sponsorship in a New District

Junima shakya

Junima Shakya

Nepal Sponsorship Manager

June 19, 2014

 

 

After a two-and-a-half-hour drive from our regional office in Biratnagar, we reached our destination Saptari. Saptari is an eastern Terai district of Nepal where Save the Children will soon launch its Sponsorship program. The first stop in Saptari was our new partner organization's office. We all then headed to Launiya, a village in Saptari.

Grade two children in primary school on Launiya village

Grade two children in Launiya village's primary school

We reached the only school, and a primary school at that, in Launiya village. Due to lack of classrooms, pre-k and grade one students share the same classroom. During our conversation with one of the pre-k facilitators, Usha Kumari Mandal, we found out that she received a formal training on early education many years back, but has not been updated about the standard methods of teaching. She expressed her concern over the sharing of the classrooms and added, "It is difficult to care for children…plus, it becomes chaotic when two teachers try to teach their lessons simultaneously to these two groups in the same classroom."

Grade four children in school of Ko Madhepura village

Grade four children in school at of Ko Madhepura village

Anticipating similar challenges, we moved to our second destination, Ko Madhyapura. We witnessed the same problems. Lack of room required children from different grades to share a single classroom. The classrooms were in deplorable conditions. Students in one of the classrooms actually shared space with a pile of bricks. We noticed that the school had a majority of female students, only 26 out of 155 registered students were malw. When inquired, one of the teachers informed us that while parents sent their daughters to government schools, they sent their sons to private schools for better education opportunities.

We could not help but notice that almost half of the registered students remained absent in the school. We saw some children accompanying their parents in the household chores or some leisurely spending their time playing in the pond near the school. Very few parents in this community realize the importance of education in their children's lives and when parents go out to work, they keep their eldest child in charge of the house and their siblings. The head teacher of the school suggests that these problems can partly be overcome by providing training on active teaching and learning methods for teachers. He further adds, "The regularity of students can be improved by maintaining a sound teaching and learning environment… we should also focus on creating and managing proper classrooms for students."

Children in school of Launiya

Children in school at Launiya village

The challenges in this community are many. Ultra-poverty, lack of awareness, different priorities concerning one's immediate survival, and decades of oppression by the so-called elite groups are some of the major causes preventing this community from living a prosperous life. The younger generation needs a little lift to fulfill their dreams and hopes of better lives.

We are glad that our Sponsorship program will soon be there for that!

 

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