A Homework Club has been operating in Fatima since 1994. Altough initially operated by the Loreto Sisters, following their decision to close the project June 2004, the project was re-opened in January 2005 under the sponsorship and management of the Fatima Regeneration Board.
113 children are registered for the service and most of them attend the club very regularly. The club is open 2.00pm till 7.30pm every day. The club has a strong orientation to encourage and strengthen literacy skills in all its activities. Young people in secondary school have set up their own “club” in a separate flat, called “Up 2 the next level”. The project also puts great emphasis on its close co-operation with other community projects such as ArkLink. This collaboration has proven very fruitful in terms of looking at education in a broader and more creative sense.
The strengths of the project are:
The young people attend on a voluntary basis; on average the club is attended by over 70 children every day;
the programmes are structured around the educational needs and interests of the young people;
young people are included in the running of the project and encouraged to feel this is their club where their ideas are valued;
It is community based, which facilitates a closer involvement of parents, and the project is supported by other local organisations.
Early school leaving was a major issue in Fatima. This Club has been successful in attracting a large number of children from a disadvantaged background who will need support to successfully navigate their way through the school system. The personal connection with the children, their parents and the wider community places the project in a unique position to provide practical assistance, play an encouraging role and intervene in a timely fashion.
As significantly, the club has been able to build a good connection with those children within the community who are most at risk. A lot of those children would attend school irregularly, would be significantly behind in their educational development and do not attend any other educationally focused service. The Homework Club has played a positive role in improving their school attendance and their attitude towards education.