Yesterday I visited the Ringa Community Nursery (仁安幼儿园) near Shangri-la and think it might be of interest to you, or other readers for that matter.
This school for children from the six villages in the Ringa Valley is educating more than 90 children aged 4 through 6, teaching them to speak and write Mandarin Chinese, which will allow them to attend public school after the age of 6. Prior to this, most children in the Ringa Valley were unable to attend public school because they lacked the necessary Mandarin Chinese skills.
The nursery also teaches literacy in the children's native Tibetan, which helps them stay in touch with their own culture. Tibetan literacy classes are taught by local volunteers who work at the nearby Banyan Tree Ringha.
The nursery is hoping to add English courses next year, but is in need of funds.
Most young children in the villages around the Ringa Valley are raised by their grandparents because their parents are off working. The grandparents are often unable to look after the children, who frequently play in the road and engage in other innocent enough but dangerous play habits.
The Ringa Community Nursery provides a safe place for the children to play, as well as previously unimaginable education opportunities. It also teaches the children basic hygiene and health knowledge and provides one hot bath a week, something most of the kids don't have access to in their own homes.
I was quite impressed by the dedication of the two volunteer teachers at the nursery, one a Naxi girl from Lijiang, the other a Han girl from Zhejiang. Aside from a few Banyan Tree employees, the children were the only locals I encountered in the valley that could speak Chinese. Nobody from the valley has ever graduated from university before, but I could sense that some of the giggling kids I met at the nursery would change that.
For more information about the Ringa Community Nursery, check their bilingual website at www.ringa-kindy.org/
For information about how to donate to the nursery, go to www.ringa-kindy.org/page/help/support.php