Access to education is a fundamental right for every child, no matter their socioeconomic background. With education and an active mind, our children will have the tools they need to build towards their dreams and achieve their goals.
Virlanie Foundation believes in the importance of education in the development of children, which is why the Magellan Learning Center opened in 2002. Today, the team of teachers (made up of local staff and international volunteers) offers supplementary classes to encourage children to overcome their learning difficulties.
Gathered in the common room are the main teachers of the children: Teacher Emily, Teacher Czarina, Teacher Jeena, Teacher Weng, Kuya Lolo, and Teacher Jane all talk, laugh, and share anecdotes and jokes. In their smiles, their gestures, an unquestionable passion emerges and it is with enthusiasm that the conversation begins.
Virlanie: How long have you been working with children in the Foundation?
Kuya Lolo: It’s been 5 years since I volunteered with the Virlanie Foundation. As a French volunteer, I really feel helpful as I teach the children here. There is a family atmosphere within the team.
Teacher Weng: I’ve been a teacher for MLC for more than 10 years already. I work with children from 7 to 9 years old, and I teach them what is considered basic education.
Teacher Jane: I’ve just started with the Foundation. I teach English and mathematics to students from Grade 4 to Grade 6.
Teacher Emily / Kuya Lolo: Within Magellan, to adapt our help and support to children, we have several grade levels. Each teacher is usually in charge of a grade level according to their skills and interests.
Teacher Jeena: I’ve been volunteering in Virlanie for nearly 6 years, but I’ve been a MLC volunteer for only 3 years. I’m in charge of the ALS (Alternative Learning System), which is a government program that provides a practical option to the existing formal instruction. I also give special tutoring classes.
Teacher Emily: I am a teacher by profession. Before joining Magellan, I taught our girls from Elizabeth Home. It’s been 3 years I was assigned as the MLC Coordinator.
Teacher Czarina: I’ve been teaching in MLC for 4 months now. I am in charge of two students who have no academic background. So my job is to assist them in learning language, writing, and reading. I am also in charge of the classes that have been set up for children with disabilities.
Virlanie: How would you describe the Magellan Learning Center? How does it impact the lives of the children?
Emily Teacher / Teacher Weng: Magellan is more than a school or a support center. We attempt to teach them different values that they cannot learn from books. Our work is thus aligned with the house parents in different homes because we are here to accompany the children not just on an academic level. In MLC, like the homes, we have ground rules that the children must follow. In this sense, our work allows better for cohesion and creates a family atmosphere.
Teacher Jeena: The majority of children in the Foundation are enrolled in public schools, and it public schools, there’s normally overcrowding. There is an average of one teacher for 40 students whereas in MLC, each teacher is responsible for a maximum of 6 students per class.
Our role is to provide additional help to avoid stalls or dropping courses. So we have a system to monitor the academic progress of each child. After six months, if the results are good, the student is rewarded. In the center, we strive to give children the keys and the tools for them to go to school with confidence.
Virlanie: What are the challenges you face every day?
Teacher Weng: Apart from technical and material difficulties, the main challenge is to capture the attention of students. Many of them have problems to remember simple words, or remember their previous lessons.
Teacher Jeena: For these children, special support is needed to address their specific learning abilities. We assess their needs, and set up a tailored tutoring session that we think works best with the child.
Teacher Emily: The course of days and the progress from each child does not depend on us. We must adapt to their mood changes, and we also need to be sensitive to their state of mind before they were welcomes to Magellan. It is therefore a challenge that must be considered when preparing the classes.
Virlanie: What are the magic moments that push you to continue? Can you share a few?
Teacher Czarina: I think that question will be different for everyone. Although we work in the same team, we will probably have distinct stories to share. For my part, when a child finally reads a word, this is a big success. Many of my students cannot read or write before coming into Magellan. No matter how simple the word, it is as much my success as it is the student’s.
Teacher Weng: In 10 years of teaching, I think my greatest reward is to receive a simple “thank you”. It is an immense sense of gratitude. Education is the greatest gift one can give a child, because it is the key to their future. By teaching, we help them develop their dreams and futures.
The Magellan Learning Center is one of four support programs of Virlanie Foundation. Through its personal and unique approach, this program allows children under the care of the Foundation to access formal education and achieve their dreams.
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If you wish to support the daily effort produced by the MLC Foundation team in their work with children, please contact us at the following address: [email protected] You can also find out more about the program by clicking here.