Sunday, March 27, 2011

Modest success in Tembari preschool program

After a year of education at Tembari preschool, five children were promoted to the primary grades – in Grade 4 and 5 at Wardstrip Primary, in Gordon, Port Moresby. They are (from left) Nicholas Hivi, 15 year old, Rua Raymond, 14; and Joyce Nancy, 13, who are now in Grade 5. Audrey Steven, 12, and Emily Pange, 13, are in Grade 4. All living with single mothers, they are among the 175 beneficiary children of Tembari Children Care (TCC).

Janet Tema, Tembari’s administrator and herself a preschool teacher, with her young son. She supervised the education of the four Tembari children who have been promoted to primary level after finishing a year of preschool education. (Pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ).

A Friend of Tembari Children

WHEN they joined Tembari’s preschool program for the first time last year, these five children neither had the chance to hold a book before nor read a single written word.

In short, they never had the chance to be in a classroom during their lifetime, getting some education.

The great story is that graduating from preschool last year and moving up to the next level this school year, these Tembari kids leaped straight to primary – in Grade 4 and Grade 5 – instead of slotting themselves in Grade 1, which is the normal process.

Their situation was quite unique: they were already aged from 12 to 15 when they first had their early education at Tembari preschool.

Nicholas Hivi, 15; Rua Raymono, 14; Joyce Nancy, 13; Audrey Steven, 12; and Emily Pange, 13, have generic heartrending stories – they are all living with single mothers who have no means to put them up to school, even in preschool at that.

That’s why they have grown old without seeing a classroom.

They first learned of Tembari’s preschool classes when they began coming to The Center to join its feeding program.

Food was always lacking at home and Tembari, as a day care center, was the only place at ATS Oro Settlement at 7 Mile, outside of Port Moresby where they could have food at least once a day.

Learning that they were never in school despite their ages, Tembari founder and program manager Penny Sage-embo offered to take them in for The Center’s preschool education.

And knowing their predicament as first-time learners, the preschool teacher who handled them last year – Joe Oyu – worked hard by giving them school works that catered to the mental capabilities of children their age.

Their special lessons were geared towards perking up their reading and writing potential and their ability to handle simple operations of arithmetic.

When Tembari enrolled them early this year at Wardstrip Elementary School at Gordon in Port Moresby, to join Grade 1, school administrator immediately suggested they should join the primary school – in Grade 4 and 5.

But first the head teacher wanted to find out if they can handle works on that level.

Impressed with their performance, he supported a formal recommendation from Tembari administrator Janet Tema that they should be promoted to Grade 4 and 5.

Learning of the odd news, the children’s single mothers were shocked.

On the other hand, Rua, Nicholas, Joyce, Audrey and Emily were so excited to move to the “big school”, but quite nervous as they were going straight to Grade 4 and 5 and did not have any idea how things would be like up there.

To them, their three-grade jump, in which they avoided doing Grade 1, 2 and 3, was unbelievable.

Nicholas and Rua are both in Grade 5, section A, while Joyce is in Grade 5, section F. Audrey is in Grade 4, section B and Emily, also Grade 4, in Section C.

Janet, herself a preschool teacher, told me on Saturday that the five actually received their elementary education – Grades 1, 2 and 3 – while sitting in classes at Tembari’s preschool.

“We were able to design a special program to prepare them for school works at higher grade level,” she said.

Now, to sustain their good breaks, Janet has volunteered to give them special tutoring every Saturday.

“This would help them catch up with school loads that are the staple in Grades 4 and 5,” she said.

No longer children but teenagers, they quite enjoy life where they are now at school.

The only hassle is that they have to work hard to really deserve their blessings.

I just hope they can take the pressure.

Indeed, their feat is a modest success in our preschool program.

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