Helping Chin students take advantage of learning

Volunteer tutor Dim Ramlawt and Australian Chin Community youth leader Lily Kingbawl were pleased to welcome the first students to Friday homework club session last week. Picture: MIKAYLA VAN LOON.

By Mikayla van Loon

Mooroolbark and Croydon has a large and ever growing Chin population but as children learn english at school, the language barrier between parents means doing homework can be difficult.

That’s why a group of volunteers from the Australian Chin Community (ACC) established an after school homework club at Shop 16, with the help of Yarra Ranges Council, the Kilsyth Community Action Group and Mooroolbark Umbrella Group.

Beginning last week, ACC youth leader and assistant secretary of the youth department Lily Kingbawl said there was such a need for this opportunity, particularly after the lockdowns.

“We do find a lot of our Chin students who were born here, at home they speak in their mother tongues but in school, they speak English and there’s a lot of difficulty around comprehension,” she said.

“So understanding their readings or even their maths homework. Our parents, a lot of them, can’t even write their own name, so how are they going to help their kids with their homework and so there’s a lot to do with the language barrier.”

Focusing on the Grades 1 to 4, Lily said it is at those ages where “they’re not really fluent in English. They’re not really fluent in their mother tongues and so they tend to get lost.”

Mondays are dedicated to those in Grades 1 and 2, Tuesdays to Grade 3 students and Fridays to the Grade 4s.

Students can bring in any homework they might have and volunteer tutors will help them work through it.

Lily said she expects there will be around 40 students in total attending the sessions and she was still seeing enrollments late last week.

At the moment there are only two tutors volunteering their time, both who are studying at university themselves but Lily said they would be grateful if anyone else wanted to volunteer.

“We are open to any volunteers and any helpers…Right now we are focused on our current tutors and students to see how things go but we are always open to any helpers if they want to assist, if they want to come along and help the students, we would be most grateful.”

Seeing the two year long project get off the ground, Lily said she, the volunteers and the parents were extremely grateful to be able to offer this to these young students.

“For the Chin community and especially the kids who were born here and are going to school, I want them to really take advantage of the resources we have in Australia and really want to go to school and really enjoy studying,” she said.

Lily said knowing many adults and previous generations of Chin people were deprived of education in their home country of Myanmar, taking every opportunity to learn now and to teach young people “is so important.”

“My hope is this will grow and hopefully these homework clubs can go for many years and years. This is really essential. I know for sure there are many different age groups that need support as well but we just want to try with the most important age group.”

The Chin homework club meets at Shop 16 in The Terrace Shopping Centre from 4.30pm to 5.30pm. To find out more contact the Australian Chin Community for Eastern Melbourne on 0421 979 386 or via email