Primary education is compulsory in Thailand, however, children from AIDS families are often excluded from schools. When we started our project we established a small informal classroom to teach our children some essentials. We were delighted that our children were later accepted at a new school very close by for local children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is part of the "King's Project" for education. Our children follow the national standard curriculum.
The teachers are generally satisfied with the learning abilities and behavior of the majority of our children. We do observe some learning difficulties in older children who came to us with advanced AIDS infection. We are not sure if their difficulties are the a result of prolonged exclusion from school or HIV-related cognitive development problems. If children are treated with ARV early enough there is little reason why HIV infection should interfere with their learning ability.
BaanGerda has active programs to provide non-academic activities. Kids are encouraged to draw, take music lessons, dance, and do crafts. An English language course is planned. Parents have access to a sewing shop and a wood shop, where they make articles for sale. These facilities are meant also to help older children learn a trade. Recently, we also received twelve computers from BMW.
We have learned that these extracurricular projects greatly enhance the quality of life of our residents at a very modest cost. We are discovering some awesome talents amongst our children.