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POCM childrenIt is the beginning of a new school year at POC. The older students are moving on to college and the younger children starting in kindergarten. It is an exciting time for them all and for some a time of anxiety.
For those going to college it means leaving the security of POC and coping with the problems and temptations of mixing with other students, whilst for the younger ones it means the beginning of formal education.
As far as possible all the children have a new uniform at the beginning of term. This gives them a great sense of pride and belonging and they set off proudly with their new schoolbag.
The class sizes at POC are small, and organised according to ability rather than age. Some of the youngsters have had little or no education before coming to POC and would struggle if they were taught alongside their peers, but because of the small class numbers they can catch up and eventually move into a higher class.  Were they to go to the local government school they would be in classes of 60+ where they would have little chance of improvement and might be subjected to ridicule. 
Several of the teachers at POC are students who have grown up at POC, gone to college to gain their teaching qualifications and are now valuable members of the teaching staff, but for these and the other members of staff there is now a dilemma.  The standard of living in the Philippines is steadily rising, which means that wages are also on the rise together with the cost of food and other essentials. The wages that POC were able to pay their staff were always well below the national average but people stayed because they believed in what Chrissy and her staff were doing. Now the Government has increased the salary a teacher can earn in a government school by a large percentage which POC cannot match. Many of POC’s teachers have families to support and children to educate, so find that financially they can no longer stay at POC. At the end of term almost half the staff reluctantly handed in their notice.
At the present salary rate it would be impossible to recruit more staff and the school would have to close and all the advantages it has to offer to its vulnerable children would be lost. Financially it is impossible for POC to match the government increase but in order to stop the school closing they have taken a leap of faith and offered the staff a significant increase which most have accepted.
This means an extra £2000 a month needs to be found on top of the monthly running costs of £15000. To try to raise this we hope to open a charity shop in Timperley village in July. Please pray that this is the right way forward and that the shop will be a success. If you could spare a few hours a week to help in the shop or if you have any items we could sell please contact me. 
Val Vincent 

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