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Arts & Letters Daily


Implementing the Program

Three Year Pilot Program

It is one thing to come up with an idea … it is quite another challenge to implement it. The Tham Team committed three years to develop a Saturday enrichment program for grades 4 – 6 students, present it to schools and parents in remote villages and implement it successfully. The Program would be a success if students who completed grade six would pass the State English Exam. Simply participating in the Program did not spell success … the students had to pass the exam so that they could continue with their education. Passing the State English Exam had been a problem for th students in these remote villages. In short, the challenge was to prepare students to pass the exam through an eight week Saturday English Program.


To conduct a successful Three Year Pilot Project, several things had to be done.

  • Manage the development and implementation of the program – Philip Tham maintained year round contact with the people who developed the program in Canada and the people who administered the implementation of the program in Malaysia. He coordinated all the steps that had to be taken to implement the program.
  • Customize a English remedial and enrichment program – Philip Tham made arrangements with a team of Canadian educators, Dr. Otto Toews and Ms. Joan McCreath, to develop the program. Key elements of the program included not only vocabulary, grammar, reading and writing assignments but also specific teaching strategies to engage students so that they might get excited about learning and acquire positive attitudes about themselves.
  • Develop a teacher training program – The Canadian Team agreed to train/coach the teachers in the use of the resources and teaching strategies developed for the Program. They met the teachers online once a week to explain the program and to answer any questions. In addition, they wrote feedback on the students’ writing assignments to coach teachers on how to give students appropriate feedback and to monitor their performance.
  • Deliver a teacher program online – Edward Tham, with support from Philip Tham, established an online communication network using Skype to enable the Canadian Team to teach/coach the teachers. This required numerous visits to the remote schools to trouble shoot Internet connectivity, hardware and related software. Travelling from school to school across long distances became a significant challenge.
  • Promote the program to schools and parents in remote villages – This probably was the biggest challenge assumed by Edward Tham. Someone had to convince parents and aducators in remote schools that this program would make a difference in the success of their children immediately and in the long run. Without the success of this ‘marketing plan, nothing could be accomplished. Thanks to Edward, four schools agreed to participate in each of the three years of the Pilot Phase.
  • Print and deliver the English learning resources – The Canadian Team developed the learning resources and sent them as PDF documents to Edward Tham. Now they had to be printed and delivered to the remote schools. Each year, Theresa Tham made arrangements with a local company to print the learning resources at no cost to the students! Edward Tham delivered them to the participating schools.
  • Instal and maintain basic technology for teachers and students – Thanks to Edward Tham’s patient services, the local technology installations functioned with minimum interuptions. Each year, he was able to improve the quality of the technology.
  • Commitment to teach – Without the patient and determined efforts of the teachers, the program could not have been implemented. Once again, thanks to the dedicated teachers who agreed to teach Saturday classes for eight consecutive weeks. Not only did they teach the students, they took time out of thir busy schedule to attend eight two-hour training sessions online.
  • Prepare grade six students for the State English Exam – The final weeks were particularly challenging for grade six students and teachers. They had to getready to write the State English Exam … without a clear pass on this Exam, the studens could not be promoted to grade seven. The teachers and students worked through the assignments in old exams. These were tense days.
  • Raise funds from corporations for parents who could not pay the tuition – I have already mentioned that Theresa located ocal companies who paid for printing the learning resources. In addition, schools needed hardware and library books. Some school buildings needed repairs. For example, one school needed a new library room. Theresa and Philip came to the rescue every time. Last but not least, the Tham Family personally supported the program with  finacial contributions. Thet did not allow the program to falter.
  • Develop a website to explain the program and to request donations – Philip developed a website, Sponsor a Village, designed to explain the program and to raise donations. The current website is being developed to enhance these functions. Dr. Otto Toews is the Editor/Manager of this website.

The successful execution of these steps by the Tham Team has set the stage for expanding the program to many schools. That is where your help is needed to raise the funds that would enable students to participate in the Saturday classes.

Registration Fee: $40.00 Cdn

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