Meanwhile the TeachNLearn@Rempang programme is in its second year. A test of both oral and written skills in English at end 2007 yielded surprisingly good results. An average of 80 percent passes was achieved by classes from Primary Three to Six.
This year with the help of generous donations from well wishers, we have been able to make
improvements to the programme. We had funds to hire bigger buses.
The result was that we were able, on average, to achieve a teacher:student ratio of 1:12. In the first year we made do with photocopied worksheets but this year we found sponsors for textbooks, so we achieved better continuity in the lessons.
The teaching skill of volunteers was also improved by regular briefings and training sessions conducted by experienced teachers and teacher trainers.
The enrolment of the "Asrama" has also increased. When we started there were less than 80 students. There are now about 150 students. The space constraints are acute, especially after the boys’ dormitory caught fire and burnt down on Jun 2 this year. This event evoked a generous outpouring of donations from volunteers and well wishers to refurbish the dormitory.
This year the programme has also attracted foreigners working in Singapore to join. They include Malaysians, Filipinos, Indonesians and Americans.
Recently a follow-through programme was instituted. We helped the graduates from the St. Ignatius School at Rempang to find places at St. Emmanuel Secondary School in Tanjung Balai,
Karimun island. Among them were 10 who could not afford the fees but we found sponsors for all of them for the first year. We have plans to continue the English programme with these students at their secondary school.
Looking ahead we hope to pool resources with other groups such as NET (New Evangelization Team) to extend the programme to other parts of the region.