Come Visit The Slukat Knowledge Center

By Kelly Coburn, Volunteer Instructor

The Slukat Knowledge Center is a new model for combining Balinese and expatriate forces to bring free English and computer training to the teens of rural Gianyar. If you have a little time and a lot of heart, or if you are looking to exchange teaching for lodging, you could help make a big difference in the future education and careers of these fine young people.

The Founders of The Center are a well-known Balinese professional couple whose names are not important for this article. They grew up in Keramas and Klungkung. Over recent years, they’ve noticed some alarming problems among local youth: poor English test scores upon completion of middle school, a lack of basic computer skills and a general lack of self-confidence. As a consequence, these teens have been unable to gain admittance to good high schools, and have had limited success with tourism industry jobs where interaction with expatriates is important.

At first, the Founders donated computers and reference books to the local schools, but with little result. A more comprehensive solution was needed: a training center where dedicated youth could come after school and weekends to take free expatriate instructor-led English and computer courses.

Construction of The Slukat Knowledge Center began in 2007. Classes opened in August 2008. Slukat roughly translates as “the place for cleansing one’s spirit”. The Center is located in the rice fields minutes north of Denpasar via the Bypass, half a kilometer from Keramas Beach. Situated on a hill overlooking the rice fields and the ocean, The Center enjoys a constant breeze and the sound of the waves breaking on the beach. Built Balinese style, it is a complex of three bungalows, a large classroom, a meeting room and a kitchen on 27 are of land. Family members in the nearby village of Keramas maintain and operate the facility, providing cleaning, 24 hour security, transportation, maintenance and food. Manicured gardens, satellite television, computers, internet access, a library, a stage and an entertainment system make The Center a good place for conducting training courses or meetings, or just to relax.

The Center is currently staffed by a local caretaker and a family of Bilingual American volunteers. Local instructors periodically volunteer as well. Afternoon and evening English classes are held four days per week for students ages 12 to 17. A beginner and an advanced curriculum are taught, with a focus on speaking and listening skills, rather than grammar. Students who are unable to attend regularly or perform well on tests are encouraged to leave the program. Over 100 students have attended the program, and 50 are currently in classes, with group sizes averaging six. When The Center reaches capacity, an admissions proficiency test will be employed to keep the focus of the program on top performing teens.

Four person computer classes are also held for local school teachers and for students age 15 and up. Hardware care, Windows XP and Microsoft Office are taught.

The Center also runs an outreach program where instructors help with English classes at the surrounding middle schools and elementary school upper classes. Combined with word-of-mouth, the outreach program brings a steady stream of new participants to The Center.

The Center is also a meeting place for the neighboring community to discuss land use matters, as well as their source of clean drinking water via two public taps from The Center’s well. Donors have also made use of The Center for weekend business meetings, seminars and English language assistance.

The Founders feel blessed to have enjoyed successful careers. They feel beholden to give something back to their home community. They believe that education is the most valuable gift they can give, especially education that helps teens interact with people of all nations on this rapidly globalizing island. They are delighted with even the smallest successes to date. They are grateful to a handful of no-strings-attached, no-name-plaques-required donors who have helped by donating electronics, classroom materials and construction dollars. They are also grateful to Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge, and believe their prayers to her have helped make The Center a reality.

The Founders are also wise enough to realize that an education program like this is easy to start but often difficult to maintain. A tactical operating plan is in place for The Center’s next two years. One of 2009’s big challenges is instructor continuity. The current batch of expatriate instructors is leaving in May. New volunteer instructors are needed. The Center is seeking individuals, couples or a family as volunteer instructors, who may live on-site if desired. This is a non-profit endeavour in a close-knit community. Passionate, dedicated volunteers will become members of the Slukat family, not just unpaid employees. If you’d like to discuss joining The Center and are available to volunteer at least twelve hours per week for at least two months, email or call Kelly and Becky Coburn at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 081236390052.

We look forward to your visit.

 

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