Giving women and young girls equal opportunity to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education as well as 'future of work' helps enhance inclusion and reduce gender inequality. PeopleStories believes in equality and has established the STEMforGirls Scholarship since late 2020. S4G is the top level of our School for Life program and it enables selected high potential girls to obtain STEM education.
PeopleStories Founder, Victoria, went down the memory lane and recited some of the precious moments, “Teacher Sarith was over the moon when we took him to visit a few STEM and Technology schools in Phnom Penh. And I will never forget how KongNov and SreyMey started their journey back in 2020.”
KongNov and SreyMey have been on S4G for almost 2 years now and PoKim started on this exciting journey earlier this year. Having the opportunity to learn with great teachers, highly motivated students, interesting new subjects and school semester 1 just being completed, we are curious to see how the 3 girls are.
It is tough enough to pass the entrance exam to the STEM school. It is even tougher to study and stay afloat in the totally new curriculum. Coming from a rural village school, the girls are staying at the hostel with everyday chores looking after themselves, on top of studying a number of new subjects in English, a language that they are struggling with. It is just like sailing against the current. It takes a lot of grit, tenacity and resilience to go through the rigorous curriculum with not only new subjects taught in an unfamiliar language but also projects, competitions and surprise tests! All of that without the support of their family who are still back in Siem Reap.
Facing such strong currents, how did the girls feel about their Semester 1? Sreymey thought she was going to fail a Computational Thinking subject. Unexpectedly, she has passed all her subjects! It was not an easy journey for her though.
On the other hand, KongNov and Pokim have received some unsatisfactory results and they reflected on taking steps to make the much required improvements.
Pokim, the newly-minted STEM scholar, mused, “For Semester 1, I felt some sadness and some happiness. For all of the subjects, it's difficult for me because the exercises and questions that the teacher asks me need to think a lot like History and Earth Science.”
Pokim elaborated, “Subjects that I struggled with are History, Biology and Earth Science. I think it's difficult for me. I tried to research it. Sometimes I speak alone and try to explain to myself to understand these subjects.”
Pokim further revealed earnestly, “I tried to tell myself I must do it! And I gave myself a treat when I understood the lessons like milk or cake. I research on YouTube, Facebook and Google when I don't understand the lessons. Every problem has a solution, try and I will get everything that I tried.”
With Semester 2 going in full swing, the conversations shifted to looking into the present and the future. KongNov declared with determination, “I feel better and I can manage my time. My goal is to pass all subjects at least 60% for each subject. And understand more about concepts I mean apply in real life.”
Being more goal focused, Sreymey shared, “My goal is to have a great experience in grade 11, I'll complete those 3 projects well. So then in grade 12, I will have two choices to choose. First one, Just focus on studying, because I have tried many difficult times in grade 11 already. And the second and also the last one is also to join some projects in grade 12 but only one or two if I can...”
The 3 girls may continue to encounter stumbling blocks in their pursuit of their STEM dreams. With the mindset of ‘every problem has a solution’, they will surprise us with the hurdles they cleared.
Want to plod them on in their arduous yet meaningful journey? Follow their stories today: https://www.peoplestories.net/school-for-life.html
Story written by: Volunteer Bok Hoon Ong
To break the cycle of poverty by advancing education for underprivileged students, families and communities in need.