Sylbeez Hive Learning Centre - ‘Where your child is taught to love school, enjoy school and see the sweetness in learning’
I STARTED Sylbeez Hive Learning Centre, four years ago. I began with 15 students and, as I write, there are over 160 students enrolled.
My son Martin was born with a medical condition known as Hypospadias. As he grew, I started to worry when I realised there were no schools here in Lae set up comfortably with clean toilets to cater for young children aged 3 to 10 year old.
Of course there are expatriate private learning centres, but the fees are something like K10,000 a year - far too high for working class Papua New Guineans.
With a vision that seemed impossible, I took the challenge and resigned from my position as deputy principal of the Lae Salvation Army Primary School. It was a heart-tearing when, unexpectedly, half of my finishing pay was deducted for tax. I was down-hearted and worried.
But the vision was fresh and growing in my mind and I enquired about the vacant Lions Hall and wrote a letter to the President asking to let me use it to run a learning centre for Papua New Guinean children.
I asked him to give me a grace period of two months to collect fees and pay the rent. Thankfully he agreed. That’s how I started this school, believing in myself with a determination to create a comfortable learning environment so my son and other children could attend a school that was conducive to their needs.
Since then, I have turned this school into a Progressive and Reading School, monitoring the progress of each child every day from classroom learning to playing outside, toilet use, eating lunches, just about everything they do.
I teach Alpha Phonics in Preparatory and Grade 1 plus enrichment classes three times a day for children who need to catch up with their letter sounds, word blending and reading. At the end of Grade 1, the children read well and go on to Grade 2.
It is a tiring, busy and demanding job, but I find it fulfilling and rewarding at the end of the year when we successfully commend and award outstanding students. Some parents have even asked me how I can handle being the school bus driver, teacher, principal etc and I say it is a commitment and I truly enjoy what I do.
In addition I have 16 staff including teachers, a housekeeping matron, a canteen manager, a driver and a cook.
I get excellent positive comments from parents and I am thankful that my vision is still alive and vibrant.
My son Martin is in Grade 4 now and during that time Professor Paddy Dewan, a urologist, has repaired the congenital problem he was born with and he is now ready to attend another school next year to do Grade 5.
In Term 2 this year, I moved the school to a new location at Telikom College, some kilometres out of Lae town.
I have been collecting books to set up a library and in Lae and find it hard to get hold of genuine children’s reading books. I would really love to hear from people who can donate children’s reading books to Sylbeez Hive Learning Centre to help me establish a proper library for our students.
My goal in the long run is to establish this school at a permanent location with a modern library where students from other schools can be members and can read, do assignments and borrow books.
Photos: (1) Marlene’s son and daughter. (2) Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 engrossed in watching a cartoon.