Good Start Learning Centre
The Good Start Learning Centre (GSLC) is a refugee-run pre-school catering to refugee girls and boys aged between four and six. It is the first and most established pre-school for refugee children in Penang. It is a key component of our work and is run with the full involvement of refugees. All the teachers are drawn from the refugee community. GSLC started from the efforts of a refugee who was teaching four young children in his front room because there was no other educational opportunity for the children. From this small community-based beginning, GSLC now has its own location providing basic literacy and numeracy skills and a curriculum which includes the teaching of vital social skills. It is recognised by UNHCR and our head-teacher and other teachers participate in the exchanges and trainings facilitated by UNHCR.
The enrolment this year is 72 children. Parental and community involvement is very much encouraged and this links to our wider community-based work. Outings are organised, supported by local partners and friends. The networks created through the school provide a means of dissemination to share critical community information and parent education. Parent-teacher meetings are very well attended, with some 70% of families participating.
We are very fortunate to have consistent support from donors, as well as much appreciated support for teacher training and orientation from (at present) Susan Rinker and Lisa Munson. The Global Development Association has also been a great partner, giving both teacher-training and financial assistance. And we have been able to be involved in initiatives like the recent BEECRC project whose Malaysian section was run by Universiti Sains Malaysia's Education Department (under Dr Kim). And also the recent UNHCR Child Protection project which, amongst other things, has encouraged the adoption of a Child Protection Policy and Child Safeguarding procedures across all learning centres.
Meantime, we host visitors like the team from the Qatar Foundation, and a key advocacy target is simply for the Malaysian government to give every child in Malaysia the right to education, which is the right to a future. We are happy to help work towards making that a reality. Please see our report on this.
“We are so proud of our efforts.
We have our own school and the beginning of a future for our children.” Refugee parent