CORE supports, financially and technically, SOUP to now operate three child centres offering non-formal education classes for kids whose parents are too poor to send them to school. After ten months, the kids can write an exam to determine in which class they could start school.

Successful child centre graduates: The ‘graduates’ of the child centre get scholarships through either CORE or SOUP to attend schools nearby. Every Friday afternoon after the school finishes early; there is a tuition and mentoring session for scholarship students at the child centre. Five students on CORE scholarships wrote the final national exams in 2014. They all passed and two were in the top 15% of all students in the country. A factor in their success would seem to be the Friday afternoon mentoring sessions. In 2014, CORE provided scholarships for 83 very poor kids to attend school. After the earthquake of April 2015, all three of the child centres resumed operating and our scholarship students were back at school with the start of the new school year.

More kids in school: Among other results, the child centre has helped to get kids in the area to attend school. When we started in Kalimati in 2006, the average age of the kids attending the child centre was about 10. The kids would learn at the centre and then do a test to see where they would fit into the school system. It was so much better when 10-year-olds did not have to start school in kindergarten. Gradually, with greater awareness, the average age of the kids attending the child centre has been dropping.

In 2013, with SOUP, we decided to reduce the number of rooms rented in Kalimati and start a second small child centre in an area to the south of the airport, in a very poor neighbourhood where most of the parents work as day-labourers on construction sites. The centre has 25 kids attending. Like when we started in Kalimati, there are several 10-12 year olds in the class, who have never had the chance to attend school. Meanwhile, the smaller class in Kalimati continues and the centre serves as the hub for the saving and credit activities.

We like to think of our programs as helping families – both the children and the parents, often a single mother.