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  Ysgol Yr Hendre Success Leads to New Expansion

Ysgol yr Hendre, the only Welsh school in Trelew in Welsh Patagonia, was founded in 2006 to provide Welsh language education to young children in the east of the Argentinean province of Chubut.

Its Ysgol Feithrin (Nursery School) had been so successful, that the school expanded to include 6, 7 and 8 years olds, and now it plans to expand still further to educate more and older children in a greater range of subjects.

Its high teaching standards and demonstrable results have made it very attractive to local parents, many of whom are not from a Welsh background, yet still prefer to send their children to a bilingual school, rather than a local state school. Ysgol yr Hendre set out to provide its pupils with the type of education that Patagonia’s Welsh founding fathers would have chosen for their own children: with old-fashioned individual attention in small class sizes and with committed and able Welsh-speaking staff.

Their success has now been recognised by the provincial government of Chubut, who have promised £80,000 to help fund the school’s expansion, and by the town council of Trelew, who have donated a new and much larger site for the school adjacent to the town’s Moriah Chapel.

But, no matter how hard you try, you can’t build a new school for £80,000! Fees from parents, donations and some help with teachers’ salaries help from local government, from the British Council and from the Welsh Assembly Government all help to keep the school going, but to increase still further the number of children who are educated in Welsh, the school must add to its existing complement of 15 teachers and 4 classroom helpers.

The school needs to move from its increasingly cramped headquarters to its new site by the beginning of the new school year (in March 2010). Construction of new building must start, the buildings must be equipped, teaching facilities purchased and teachers located and trained. A mighty challenge, but one which doesn’t deter school chairman, Dr David Williams, and headmistress, Magalí Roberts. They are planning all sorts of fundraisers and awareness campaigns to move the project in the right direction and are confident that March 2010 will see children being taught on the new site.

Information about these campaigns has now come to the notice of Rhys Meirion, an ex-headmaster himself, who wanted to know how he could help. It didn’t take long before he agreed with the organisers of his 2010 tour to Patagonia to make a financial donation to the school for each fan who joins him on his official supporters’ tour. He has also offered to dedicate a concert or noson lawen in Trelew to help this worthy cause.

Rhys will be touring Patagonia in July and August of 2010 and will be the star attraction at the Gŵyl y Glaniad celebrations in Puerto Madryn (which commemorate the 145th anniversary of the arrival of the first Welsh settlers on July 28, 1865), as well as at the Mimosa Eisteddfod. In addition, he will perform in Trelew, Gaiman, Esquel, Trevelin, Buenos Aires and Comodoro Rivadavia.

For more information on Rhys Meirion’s 2010 Patagonia tour, see www.rhysinpatagonia.com.

For more information on Ysgol yr Hendre, and on how to make a donation to the school or set up a standing order, please email Dr David Williams in Trelew at carinmedina@speedy.com.ar




Esquel - Chubut - Patagonia - Argentina - Email: info@welshpatagonia.com

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