Extending the scope of education
In 1997, KSP extended the scope of local education by initiating pre-school programs at KSP’s Ghunsa and Folay Schools. They cater for children aged 3-5 and use local women as teachers. These programs are an important step towards KSP’s long-term goal of training local teachers.
KSP continues to provide teaching materials and to train and pay the salaries of the mothers who work as pre-school teachers. A long-term goal is to expand the pre-school program into an adult literacy program, emphasizing environmental conservation and preventative health care.
KSP volunteers Susan Wagner and Amie Paschal conducted the first few days at the school, and this is their account of the
"The first day was a complete success! There were six mothers and their children. We began by introducing ourselves, 'Mero nam Susan ho', then progressed around the circle so that the mothers and children stated their names individually. Then, we pointed to a child and asked what was his or her name. The children caught on to this game very quickly.
Next, one of the mothers brought out a box of farm animals. She took out each animal individually and asked "Yo ke ho?" The children were thrilled with the small animals and called out their names in Tibetan. The two mothers seemed to enjoy this game equally as much.
After the animals, we asked the mothers which game they thought would be best to introduce next, and the more senior "Ama" suggested the colored counting sticks (Cuisinaire rods). We were delighted at this, because she seemed to remember from the previous day our explanation of introducing the materials from the concrete to the abstract. The younger mother brought the sticks over and rolled out the corresponding mat.
The children became very excited and the circle closed immediately. The mother held up the 'one' stick and said the number aloud in Tibetan ('chick'). One of the youngest children picked up the one, held it in her hand, and walked around the room saying 'chick, chick, chick'. We were thrilled with this behaviour and emphasized to the mothers that this is exactly how young children learn.
One child spontaneously began clapping and repeating "chick, nee, chick, nee" (one, two, one, two) and the others followed his lead. The mothers were obviously proud of the little three-year-old girl who had identified the number two stick independently.
One of the youngest children cried and had difficulty separating from her mother. We suggested that the mother accompany her until she felt more comfortable. However, by the afternoon session, this same two-and-half-year old was easily engaged in the activities and then easily separated from her mother. In fact, this little girl cried when pre-school was over and her mother had to carry her out of the classroom."