This week I have been rushing around preparing for the visit of our CEO, Tim Howarth, and our schools networking evening. The aim is to introduce affluent Singapore international schools to our school partnership scheme and encourage them to build a long-lasting relationship with one of our rural schools in Cambodia, Myanmar and, soon, Nepal. It only costs £16,000 (S$30,000) to build a school and £6000 (S$10,000) to maintain it annually, equivalent to US$1 per child per week. Talk about value for money!
We work in areas where there is real need, where we are invited by the community and where we ‘teach the unreached’. Learning basic skills such as reading, writing and counting in the lingua franca, as opposed to the tribal language, is the best protection vulnerable young people can have against predatory forces – be they illegal land grabbers or child traffickers, or simple malnutrition through basic poverty.
Our event was attended by 30 teachers from the ten most prestigious schools here, and despite the inevitable tech moment – no sound for the first video! – went off ‘swimmingly’ as one attendee kindly said. Wine and beer and good local eats always break the ice.
So far we have two schools in the programme and several other expressions of intent. We would like to set up a Singapore hub of partner schools so that we can swap notes on how best to integrate this ‘service’ element of the curriculum into day-to-day school work, from primary right through to senior secondary.
Tim and I also visited four schools who were unable to make it and I now feel I have earned my holiday. Off to Zimbabwe and Mana Pools tonight! Next blog will one to look out for…