A group of Form Two students, using an English language project as a focus, has raised more than $40,000 to help underprivileged children in a mainland village. The project has culminated in a visit to the village in western Guangdong province, when the students met their pen friends. Most of the money raised will help meet tuition fees for primary and secondary students in the village. The rest will be donated to a Caritas project to build a new primary campus. Since September, 84 students from Forms 2B and 2C of Cheung Sha Wan Catholic Secondary School have held fund-raising activities, including a concert, two flea markets and a ''dress casual'' day. The students had to use English during the events. The project had given purpose to learning the language, NET teacher Rebecca Alderton said. ''It has created many occasions for authentic communication. Some students shone with qualities other than academic abilities and were getting recognition from classmates. But most importantly, they have realised that even as young people they can help make the world a better place,'' she said. The project was made possible by the school's flexible teaching approach. Lower form English teachers spend between 60 and 70 per cent of teaching time covering core topics required for examinations. They are then free to explore other possibilities. ''Charity is one of the core topics and we decided to expand it. This approach offers creative teachers more space. They won't feel insecure about it because they know what they must cover,'' said English panel member and co-organiser of the project, Jane Chew Lai-chun.