Kindergartens lie at the heart of the Duang Prateep Foundation's activities. They began as a refuge from slum conditions and slum values for young children whose parents had to leave them while they looked for work. A local kindergarten with dedicated teachers who understood the children's background could make a big difference to family life.
Kindergartens also soon became informal community centres where problems could be discussed with teachers and neighbours. As the movement grew in Khlong Toei, other slums approached the DPF for help in founding their own kindergartens.
The DPF now supervises 8 kindergartens in Bangkok slums and has also worked with many other communities in urban and rural areas to ensure that their children could also benefit from kindergarten education.
Apart from the Duang Prateep Kindergarten, based at the foundation's headquarters, the kindergartens are administered by elected community committees. In this way the kindergartens have become an important step in the development of the community, in addition to being a happy stimulating and rewarding introduction to the education process for its younger members. For all the kindergartens under the auspices of the DPF, foundation staff monitor kindergarten standards, give support and advice and arrange staff training.
Independent surveys have shown that slum children who attend kindergarten, not only achieve better at primary school than their peers with no kindergarten education, but they are also on average healthier, with less likelihood of personality disorders.
Foundation staff are safe in assuming that kindergartens are a good place for slum children to be when they are small. They provide a stimulating and rewarding introduction to the education process. A kindergarten is also an important step in the development of a community.
An important part of the role of the kindergarten teacher is in educating both children and parents about good practices in health, hygiene and nutrition. Children at kindergartens have regular health and dental inspections. Parents are taught about how to raise healthy well-nourished children. Every school day a nutritious lunch is served to the kindergarten children.