The Human Development – education pioneer in Bangkok slum communities – after having taught over forty five thousand slum children in the past thirty years, now brings a bold new era of Education to six slum communities.
March 10, 2009 In a joint signing ceremony between parents, community leaders, slum kindergarten school representatives and Human Development Foundation Klong Toey, Bangkok the HDF formally entrusted six total preschools, buildings, books, furniture, everything, to six slum communities.
From the first of March this year 2009, these six communities now directly supervise the education of their children, in kindergartens located in the slums themselves. Also this offers a wonderful exciting challenge to the Education Department of Thailand to join more fully in this most necessary education.
This day marks a New Chapter in Bangkok Slum Kindergarten Education in which the community itself now controls the education of their children. Ms. Usanee Janngeon, Exec. Director of HDF was quoted as saying: “This is a wonderful day. We have waited many years for this day. Now we feel the Communities are prepared to oversee their own primary education. Today is a day we all stand proud and tall.”
The HDF-Mercy Centre, together with Slum Community parents and leadership has operated Mercy Preschools for the poor children in these neighborhoods for over two decades. Generations of poor children, many of them children of rag-pickers and garland sellers, have graduated from these preschools and have continued in their education in government primary and secondary schools excelling as some of Bangkok’s brightest and most talented children. Some former students are now teachers at the very preschools they once attended.
“This handover of the schools,” said the foundation’s co-founder Sister Maria Chantavarodom “demonstrates the power of education to transform a slum community. It was a very bold and daring thing to do, when we first built schools in these communities. In those days, slum children ordinarily did not attend school. If they did, they performed poorly, and dropped out early because they were expected to fail. Our preschools changed all that. Our Slum kids excel when they enter first grade in government schools. They compete with the smartest kids!!!
Ms. Sudaporn Saenkhot, Director of HDF-Mercy Centre’s 30 Kindergartens added, “We will continue our close relationship of almost 30 years with our brothers and sisters in these communities and help however we can. However, we are confident that they can stand on their own and give their children the best preschool education available.”
The HDF-Mercy Centre continues to operate thirty preschools for over 3,000 children in the poorest Bangkok neighborhoods. The foundation also operates preschools for the children of construction workers at large construction sites as well as the Janusz Korczak School for Street Children on premise at their Mercy Centre. Throughout Bangkok and in the Mokan (ethnic sea gypsy) communities in Southern Thai provinces, the foundation sponsors further education of over 1,000 poor children through primary and secondary school, and often vocational college and university - as far their education can take them.
The HDF-Mercy Centre, founded in 1973 by Father Joe Maier and Sister Maria Chantavarodom, is a non-denominational community based organization, recognized locally and internationally for its development work with the poorest of the poor and its long-standing programs in the areas Child Protection, Education, HIV/AIDS, Anti-trafficking and Community Outreach.