Early Childhood Education Programming and Construction Projects
With the completion of the first rebuilding project taken on by Friends of Tonga, The Ta’anga Kindergarten, Friends of Tonga is committed and excited to expand opportunities for Early Childhood Education in the Kingdom of Tonga. To learn more about the Ta’anga project visit the page here.
Friends of Tonga has been approached by other communities, in Tonga, to assist with constructing future kindergartens and providing resources to assist with early-childhood education. Moreover, the Ministry of Education has expressed interest in supporting these types of programming and projects. Friends of Tonga’s goal is to support the fledgling early-childhood education initiatives, across the entire Kingdom.
Furthermore, with construction projects, we can create specialized kindergarten buildings, where students feel comfortable and safe. This will allow effective and consistent early childhood education to take place each day. Early Childhood Education is important in giving students the support and foundation they need to be successful in the future and leaves lasting effects on students, allowing them to learn better in primary school and beyond. Early childhood education also provides a positive benefit for students to secure better jobs and better economic security in the future. Likewise, it will provide communities a consolidation point for future weather events.
With a building specified for these students to learn in, students will be provided with the foundation they need to succeed in primary school and beyond! Friends of Tonga is committed to supporting the development of early-childhood education facilities in the Kingdom of Tonga. With your help, we can make this a reality. Other communities have already asked for our help; want to help build another? If so, click here!
School Scholarship Program
Although it is free for students to attend public schools in Tonga, parents still need to provide school fees for materials and exams, which often they cannot afford. To help needy families overcome this financial burden, Friends of Tonga awards scholarships to the neediest students with their annual school fees.
At the beginning of each fiscal year, Friends of Tonga awards scholarships to the neediest students with their annual school, uniform, and book fees. The application was shared through social media, Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education. Once the application period ends, FOT's board of directors reviews and selects applications and awards scholarships based on need and merit.
The scholarship is transferred to the Friends of Tonga Local Program Manager who will personally pay the associated fees to assure that all donations are appropriately handled. FOT will receive receipt of payment which will be posted in our annual financial report to ensure transparency and fidelity.
Thanks to your generous donations we were able to award 13 scholarships in 2020. To learn more about the 2020 scholarship recipients or to support their continued education, please click here.
The 2020 Friends of Tonga Scholarship is now closed. To view the 2020 application, eligibility requirements, and instructions click here.
Pen Pal Program
To promote better understanding of other cultures and provide meaningful writing practice, Friends of Tonga connects Tongan schools to international schools. Students write letters back and forth to share information about their culture and lifestyle.
Currently, Friends of Tonga is exchanging letters with three US Schools in Maryland, Colorado, and California and Tongan schools in Fahefa, Kolonga, and Tufu Vai, along with the Tongan Language School in Australia. Tongan and International students have been enjoying exchanging letters and learning about the cultures in the other countries.
The Pen Pal program also reinforces writing skills and expands cultural exposure for Tongan children, which has become significantly more effective with the advent of the internet. Using traditional mail services, the frequency and quantity of exchanged letters would have been significantly curtailed to students receiving only one letter a year. Now, teachers are able to scan or take photos of their letters and send them directly to their partners (and to FoT) with ease.
This year FoT has received its first measurable results from the class six exams. Between the 2019 and 2020 school years, participating schools, in both the Pen Pal and Read Aloud program, have seen a significant increase in test scores. Specifically, each individual school has seen an average increase in English scores by 9-10%. Through the Pen Pal program, FoT has reached 14 individual classrooms across 10 schools, which has provided meaningful writing practice for 450+ students, in the USA, Tonga and Australia.
FOT would love to expand this program to more Tongan and international elementary schools. We are currently looking for 1 Tongan Elementary class. If you are interested in participating in this project please use the "contact us" link or at firstname.lastname@example.org! If you are interested in learning more, check out our Pen Pal Resource Page.
Video Resource Library
Educational resources, especially books, are limited in Tonga. This is due to many factors: it is inordinately expensive to send them, the climate is inhospitable (limited climate control and very humid), and dissemination to the right people who would use and care for them is difficult. This contributes to a major gap in Education delivery. Although English is the second language in Tonga, English language books are limited, and often students do not hear stories read by fluent English speakers.
To meet this need, Friends of Tonga has created a resource library of videos in which English speakers record themselves reading stories. All books have been authorized by the authors and publishers for use. Also, the video library is housed on the FoT website and can be accessed free-of-charge. Currently the library consists of 79 videos; however, FoT presently has permission to record over 200 books and is projected to have over 100 read alouds available by the end of 2021. This project has increased through collaboration with the UMBC TESOL Department, Shriver Peaceworker Program, and local educators who voluntarily record the read alouds and develop the accompanying resources. With these videos, in an area where resources are limited, Tongan teachers or parents can have at their fingertips a variety of read alouds to provide to their students or children. It is our goal that these videos will promote a stronger love of reading in Tonga and improve students’ English reading and comprehension skills.
Each video will be accompanied by materials that teachers can use in their classrooms that provide English practice in vocabulary development, reading comprehension and writing skills.
You can access our Video Library here. If you are interested in becoming a part of this project, you can contact us at email@example.com and you can access our Read Aloud Guide here.
In today’s globalized world, Friends of Tonga’s members and stakeholders are dispersed throughout the world (Australia, New Zealand, USA, England, Canada, Vanuatu, Samoa, Thailand, and of course Tonga to name a few). With social media and virtual-meeting software, we have held numerous virtual events, which include personal memoirs, documentary discussions, and virtual kava sessions, which has allowed Friends of Tonga to cultivate a rich and engaged community.
Moreover, with the advent of high-speed internet in Tonga, connecting stakeholders with our programs has become easier and is one of the primary ways of marshalling support for our mission and raising awareness of current events in the Tongan community.
We look forward to hosting more events in the near future.
Have an idea about a potential event? Email us or message us on our Facebook page!
The Tongan Time-Capsule Project
This purpose of this initiative is to capture the memories and stories of anyone who has spent time in Tonga or has been impacted by Tonga in some capacity. We hope to create a library of media content from the FoT community. Please click here to access the "Time-Capsule."