The 2004 tsunami killed over eight thousand people and displaced thousands more. It ushered in a new reality for Thailand's southern coastal communities. Takua Pa was arguably hit the hardest and in many ways was ground zero for the tsunami. The post-tsunami reality further exacerbates what we call the opportunity gap - Thailand’s diversifying economy is providing new opportunities, but those who live in more rural communities lack the access to training and education to seize these opportunities. Just by living in a certain place, people miss out.
Tourism has returned to Takua Pa and, like many holiday towns, the wealth often does not trickle down. Locals have developed a new working class where long days leave little time for family life. Children return home to empty houses after school. Homework is left incomplete and questions go unasked. Recognizing the need for a third space (not school and not home) and responding to requests from the local community, Imagine Thailand established the Lighthouse Learning Centre in 2008. Here students from kindergarten to grade nine come after school and have a welcoming place to play and to receive further tutoring with a focus on math, science, and English - just like students in larger urban centres. Currently the centre is open Monday to Friday for drop-in and tutoring programs and on Saturday afternoons there is a kids club program. To facilitate tutoring, students are grouped together by grade, but the centre has become rather crowded and it makes it challenging for tutors to connect with their students in the large space.
The Lighthouse Learning Centre is Expanding
To better facilitate after school learning, Imagine Thailand is expanding the centre to ensure students have a positive and conducive learning environment. Phase One of the project is nearly fully funded. We will be pouring concrete foundations and placing modular buildings (shipping containers measuring 6m x 2.25m x 2.59m) which will be modified into classrooms. At present we are completing the permit process before construction can begin. We believe that greater capacity will bring greater opportunity. The centre’s staff already have plans for a weekend club for parents to gather and do practical activities together (candle making, creating liquid soap etc). More than engaging the students, we want to engage the whole family and provide a venue for parents to build their own meaningful community.
How you can be involved
Though the purchase and installation of the Phase One containers is funded, we want to make these classrooms an impactful space. Additional funds are needed for decorations, classroom supplies, and stools. Consider having your children or your school invest in the education of other children.
In Phase Two of the expansion project we will install a third modular building as a coffee shop. The Lighthouse Learning Centre has already experienced great success as a welcoming space. A coffee shop is another expression of our belief in the value of a third space. Practically, the coffee shop will be used as a vehicle for job skills training and a platform for teaching older students about business.
For more information about the Lighthouse Learning Centre Expansion Project, or to find out how you can engage, please contact us here.