Chinese association adopts infant school
The Chinese Benevolent Association (CBA) has been the backbone of early-childhood education in the Waltham Park area through its adoption of the Jahmona Basic School, which sits on the outskirts of the Chinese Cemetery.
During a recent tour of the cemetery and school, THE STAR learnt of the relationship between the two, which ultimately fosters a safer and more comfortable environment for learning among the young and impressionable.
The school caters to children between the ages of two and six. Robert Hew of the CBA told THE STAR that Jahmona was not the only school with which they were involved.
“We do some others, but this is the one that we are very close to,” Hew said about the adoption.
Headmaster of the institution, Winston Steele, heaped praises on the CBA.
He told THE STAR, “It (support) has been tremendous, very good over the past few years. Other than Mr Hew, who is here with us now, we have had visits from other persons who came and donated things for us.”
Last December, Steele said members of the Chinese community, some who did not even speak English, hosted a treat for the school.
The donors also furnished the school with well-needed material, including new desks. Steele said they are now looking to develop the play area.
THE STAR was told that the attendance level at the school was over 90 per cent with roughly about 55 to 60 students on a daily basis.
Steele said the attendance is better than a few years ago. THE STAR was told that warring factions within the surrounding communities usually influence attendance, as parents are unable to move about freely.
Steele said, “Our school is the first school that was built in the area. However, because of crime and violence, the parents take their children to other schools.”
Jahmona was built in 1979, and according to Steele, 150 students attended at one point. Steele said the situation is better today, partly due to the level of policing.
He said the involvement of the CBA has been integral to the development of the school and safety of the children.
Steele said, “THE CBA has been doing a very tremendous job in the area. They erected the retaining wall. One time, you could have jumped the wall. Criminals and other people used to use it as a pass-through.”
Jahmona has three teachers and other administrative staff who together ensure that the educational and developmental need of the students are met.