Amee, 11, lives in a rural village surrounded by mountain ranges, forests and rivers in Mae Taeng, northwest of Chiang Mai, Thailand. The majority of people live in poverty. Many adults migrate to larger towns to find work where the pay is better and leave behind their children in the care of aging parents.
Amee is one of the children left in the care of elderly grandparents. Her father works in a factory and her mother does sewing. It will be many months before they return home, even once.
Thai is not Amee’s native language; she speaks Lisu at home with her grandparents, a local ethnic language.
Amee tried to practice reading and writing in Thai at school, but she was learning at a slower pace than her grade 4 classmates. She often did not submit her homework. Parichart, her teacher, observed that there was something wrong. Eventually the teacher realized that Amee had a learning disability. She could not read or write.
But something marvelous happened, a new opportunity to revive Amee’s hopes.
Amee was registered into World Vision’s child sponsorship program, and now participates in activities in both school and her village. She was also enrolled in the Children with Learning Disabilities Project jointly set up by World Vision and the school.
Her grades improved. She started to enjoy learning in class.
World Vision began working with children with learning disabilities last year. More than 250 children from 11 schools located in remote, rural areas in Chiang Mai have received assistance from the special learning project.
“This classroom is lovely and it has many interesting books and storybooks. The teacher is kind and she doesn’t scold me when I can’t read. I like learning here and it is fun,” Amee speaks about how she feels in learning with Ju, a teacher experienced in adapting the curriculum to accommodate slow learners.
Panisa Romsuwan, or teacher Ju, is in charge of children with special needs who learn together with their peers in Ban Pang Mai Dang School. She says that there are 34 children in this project. During the past school year, they received support in buying storybooks, school materials, computers, educational toys, and board games.
“When I was assigned the task of teaching slower learners, I wondered why the children were so naughty and stubborn. As I didn’t understand, sometimes I scolded and punished them. When I joined World Vision’s project, I received more intensive training so that I would gain experience teaching children with learning disabilities. As I now understand the reason for their behavior, I’m able to help them accordingly,” Ju describes her complete change of attitude after her training.
They meet together for reading lessons 3 days a week for one hour each session. The teacher reviews the lesson until the children know how to create and spell words. The learning atmosphere is never stressful. Instead there are sounds of laughter.
“Her school grades have improved. I believe that she will complete grade 12. I want her to continue studying,” says here grandmother Asama.
Amee is happier and she enjoys participating in the learning activities with her friends.
“I’m happy that Amee has improved in her reading. Her grade in reading has improved, 70%! It shows that she can succeed,” says Parichart.