The Half Day School has just completed a very successful 2012-2013 school year. As of mid-March, the students are on holiday for rice planting season, and will return for the new school year in May. Thanks to your generous support, this school year the Half Day School provided vital education, vocational and life skills training, and material support to over 150 children from vulnerable communities in the Thai-Burma border region.
I’d like to tell you about some recent developments at the Half Day School, including special activities, new programs and partnerships, and the work of international volunteers. I also want to update you on our ongoing activities in education, vocational training, and personal development training. This school year saw growth in a number of areas including the organic agriculture project, the Buddhist Project, and English teaching.
Our blog highlights some of the learning activities that your donations make possible for the children of the Half Day School. Click the links throughout this report to read more and see photos and videos. Some recent activities at the Half Day School include:
- Sports Day: This year’s Sports Day included the usual activities such as football and relay races, as well as some unconventional ones, like a race to make the tastiest som tam (papaya salad)! Students had a great time playing outdoors and cheering each other on while learning about self-esteem, teamwork, winning and losing gracefully, and the importance of physical fitness.
- Children’s Day: Children and adults alike had a wonderful time at our Children’s Day celebrations, which included a gift exchange, plenty of games, prizes, sweets, and dance performances. Follow the link to see a video of the festivities!
- Leadership in the Outdoors: Older students went on a three-day camping trip to learn about leadership, teamwork, and nature survival skills, and to have fun in the outdoors!
- World’s Children’s Prize: Sompop Jantraka, DEPDC’s founder and director, has been nominated for the World’s Children’s Prize for his work in child rights. Stories about him and about several Half Day School students are profiled on their website and in their magazine, “The Globe.” In the upcoming school year, Half Day School students will read “The Globe” to learn about child rights and young leaders around the world.
In November, DEPDC also welcomed Natalie, a volunteer teacher from the U.S. Natalie has been working hard to improve the quality of the English language curriculum at the Half Day School and at other DEPDC sites. She is writing an extensive teaching manual for use by future volunteers, and has provided training for current volunteers in curriculum development, lesson planning, ESL best practices, and child development. We are thrilled to develop our English program further and to welcome more international volunteers to the DEPDC family.
Of course, these special events and activities are in addition to our ongoing education and vocational activities. As you may already know, at the Half Day School the school day is divided into two parts. In the first half of the day, students study academic subjects including math, science, Thai language, and English language. During the second half of the day, students learn vocational skills. In addition to learning income-generating activities, becoming competent at a skill improves the students’ sense of self-worth and accomplishment. Some of the vocational training areas currently offered are:
- Weaving: Students learn to use a loom to weave traditional cloth. They make scarves, pha kha ma (sarongs), and other woven items.
- Electrical Training: Students learn about maintaining and repairing electrical appliances. They are introduced to the tools and safety procedures used by an electrician.
- Cooking: Students make traditional Thai dishes, snacks and desserts. They also learn about nutrition and the importance of healthy eating habits.
- Organic Agriculture: Students plant, harvest, and maintain an organic vegetable garden at the school. From tilling the soil to planting seeds to preventing pests without the use of chemicals, students have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in organic farming.
- Sewing and Embroidery: Students practicing sewing and embroidering various items such as bags and cushions.
- Handicrafts: Students express their creativity and artistic abilities by practicing skills like crocheting and fabric painting. They make and sell items such as mobile phone holders, canvas bags, small dolls, and key chains. They also re-think creative ways to recycle leftover materials to turn them into something useful and beautiful.
The Half Day School also provides ongoing life skills and personal development education, including:
- Buddhist Project: Every Friday, Buddhist monks visit the Half Day School to teach students about ethics, right living, compassion, living harmoniously with others, and other important personal principles. The monks engage the students using videos, games, and media. They also take the students outside the classroom, using activities such as organic agriculture to teach the children about working together. The objective of the Buddhist Project, now three years running, is to offer guidance, hope, and peace in the students’ lives, and to foster confidence, personal responsibility, thoughtfulness, compassion, and a healthy inner and outer life.
- Youth Leadership Programme: This program educates G.4-6 students to become leaders who are articulate, knowledgeable about social issues, outspoken, and are actively involved in their personal development as well as the development of their families, communities, and the wider society. Students learn both inside and outside the classroom from teachers, community members, local experts, and representatives from various governmental and non-governmental agencies.
We are delighted to have finished the 2012-2013 school year on a strong note, and we are excited to welcome our students back in May. As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions. And once again, on behalf of the Half Day students and their families, as well as everyone at DEPDC, I extend sincere thanks to you for making all of this possible. Together, we are demonstrating that even the children who are most at-risk for human trafficking, and who seem to have little opportunities in life, can learn, grow, and become successful leaders in their communities!
Thank you so much,
DEPDC Director of Projects