The Half Day School, started in 1996, continues to provide a free Kindergarten through sixth grade education and support for children from the surrounding communities who live in poverty, are orphans and for children who are at risk of being abused or forced into commercial sex or exploitative labor. The vast majority of the 139 students that are attending the school this year are from one of the many hill-tribe communities in and surrounding Mae Sai, but some travel daily from Myanmar.
The educational classes for both Kindergarten and Elementary grades continue to run in the morning, and the vocational classes (Cooking and Handcrafts, Sport, Art and Culture, Gardening) take place every afternoon. There have been many activity days held for the children throughout 2008. These have ranged widely and have included an excursion to Chiang Rai University Science Fair, numerous sports days, a non-formal education day, Loi Krathong festival, a presentation by staff from Laos Zoo, and New Year celebrations.
The computer class, sponsored by Global Giving, has been well-used throughout the year. Regular classes have been held for the elementary students as part of the Half-Day school curriculum. By enabling the children to become computer-literate, they will be more employable when they enter the job market.
The staff has maintained their communication with government groups, NGOs and local schools, which has contributed to the development of the school curriculum and accelerated community awareness of DEPDC. Home visits and parents’ meetings have ensured that parents and guardians have maintained their involvement in their children’s education.
The newly built shop, also sponsored by Global Giving, has been kept stocked and ready for visitors. The sewing, weaving, knitting and handicraft products are made by students from the Half-day School, as well as students from DEPDC and the vocational training program. The funds made are put back into the sewing and weaving programs to continue their development and growth.