We are happy to announce that ICM’s first kindergarten students have crossed the outstanding milestone of graduating from grade 6! ICM began operating kindergartens in 2006 and now, seven years later, ten tenacious young people have received their elementary school diplomas, many graduating with honors! In the last seven years, ICM’s Jumpstart Kindergartens and subsequent Elementary Scholarship Program has grown from a small handful of students to nearly 5,000 children marching toward academic success.
The Asian Development Bank’s 2005-6 analysis of poverty in the Philippines found that for every 100 children in the Philippines who start grade 1, only 67 finish elementary school. Among the poorest in the country the number falls to 34 who complete elementary school out of every 100 who start grade 1. There is a strong relationship between educational attainment and poverty. With each additional level of schooling reached, the poverty incidence falls. Prioritizing quality elementary education and keeping poor children in school is one way ICM is fighting the strongholds of poverty.
Minori Nagatomo, ICM’s Joint National Director of Education, recently visited Mindanao to meet these students in person. She shared this joyous graduation news with Lynn Nawata, the Executive Director of the non-profit, Real LIFE Foundation. Real LIFE provides high school and college scholarships to underprivileged Filipinos. They immediately saw how ICM’s Kindergarten & Elementary Scholar Program could feed into Real LIFE’s secondary school system and traveled to a remote part of Mindanao to see both programs in action and to explore the possibility of partnership.