"Upon the Embassy's encouragement during a community visioning and organizing workshop in Sandakan last March, the Filipino community in Sabah has established a learning center to provide the children of our migrant nationals there with basic reading, writing, arithmetic and other life skills. We hope that through this community-based initiative, we can encourage these children to pursue further education for a chance of a better life," Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya said.
Children of migrant families in Sabah have limited access to local public schools.
The Filipino community leaders in Kota Kinabalu headed by the center's chairperson Marilou Chin and assistant chairperson Levi Bation undertook the initiative and provided RM6,000 (around US$2000) as seed money to start the center.
Formally opened on June 6, the center provides free informal basic education for school-age children of Filipino parentage in Kota Kinabalu and surrounding areas. It now caters to providing primary education to around 160 students, varying from ages six to 16. The students are divided into six groups and classes are conducted in three two-hour sessions every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
The learning center is currently located in a compound owned a local benefactor, who offered the use of the area for free. Two Filipino volunteer teachers staff the center, who teaches English, Bahasa Melayu, Arithmetic and Filipino, along with basic reading, writing, counting and good conduct. The teachers receive a minimum allowance.
The center is currently funded by donations from members of the Filipino community in Sabah. Embassy officers and staff also undertook a "pass the hat" to provide additional funding assistance.
"Once again, our Filipino community has displayed the spirit of bayanihan in heeding the Embassy's call in assisting our nationals' children who need education for a better life. We hope and pray that the center will prosper further and live up to its name in providing a 'stairway to hope' for children in Sabah," he said.