Cambodia has started another round of school closures from 16 March due to the spike in COVID19 cases and many of the students once again are not engaged in learning. However, one thing we have witnessed is the adaptiveness and resilience of some local teachers in overcoming the challenges that school closures brought to their education eco-system.
In anticipation that schools may have to close again, Sangvat has learnt to use Zoom to organise lessons with the students. He shared,” The school’s director, teachers and I all agreed that this application should be used for our teaching. As a result, the outcome was better though we still face some challenges. We will continue to improve the way children are taught.”
What will help the teachers to have better online teaching sessions? Sangyat shared his wish list,” In order for online learning to generate good learning outcomes for our students, I hope that it is possible for our schools to provide laptops for the other teachers and me. I would also like to have more training on using other programmes that are related to teaching online.”
Our gratitude towards all the educators who are stepping up for the benefits of the children learning. Quality of Learning is the core of PeopleStories School for Life program and we are committed to tackle this major issues hand-in-hand with our teachers in the villages.
Every drop will fill up the jar
SreyMey has always loved to go to school as her parents have supported and encouraged her in her studies. Now that she is in the STEM school, she keenly felt the importance of knowledge to help her country progress.
While she has enjoyed learning in her village school, she is excited to be exposed to new technology and teaching techniques in her new school. She shared, “There is also a lot of competition course in e2stem school. All the students must know how to help each other and work together.”
Since living in Phnom Penh, she has found another role model. She revealed, “When I live in Phnom Penh, all my dorm mates recommend me to watch DJ Nana video because she always gives good advice to teenagers. DJ Nana encourages people who are having family problems to stay positive in life.”
Her heartfelt shoutout to her village friends," There are a lot of chances waiting for you. You can be better than me, it depends on you. During this covid period, I wish everyone take care of your health so that you can be successful in future!”
The other village children can be included in their village school and perhaps even be on the Road to STEM scholarship through your support. Help to make inclusiveness happen for them!
Mothers on the Road, too!
We have heard from the girls’ dreams in their education journey in our January newsletter. How did their mothers feel about the new phase in their girls’ education? Understandably, they missed their daughters very much, however, the thought of their girls’ learning opportunity in the capital city kept them going.
A mothers’ visit to Phnom Penh was arranged just a week ago in mid-February. A parent revealed, ‘This is the first time for us to be in Phnom Penh. Mr. Veasna took us to see a lot of new things and very good places in Phnom Penh.’
They shared that before PeopleStories came into their lives, the girls have studied, like all the other village children, with no dream of ever leaving the village to further their studies. With PeopleStories, the girls started to have dreams of entering the Road to STEM scholarship. They studied very hard to give their dream a shot. Their success has provided the much-needed inspiration for the younger ones at the village school. The mothers were grateful that now their girls are closer to their dreams of achieving with the vision of helping to further the education of their fellow villagers.
They hope their daughters would continue to study hard and have a good job in the future. One of the mothers shared, ‘My dream is I want to see my child’s dream comes true in the future.’ What a universal dream of all parents!
What do the mothers think about PeopleStories now that they have seen our work? They think PeopleStories works very hard and the help to the communities is getting stronger and stronger. They would like to say many ‘thank you’ to PeopleStories, especially Victoria and Olli. Not forgetting the PeopleStories teams who work in Cambodia too!
You, too, can play a part in helping to further the education of the village children and give a ‘gift of hope’ to them.
First Day Back To School
Schools in Cambodia closed in March of this year and after a long 6 months wait finally re-opened on 7 September 2020. We wanted to know and hear directly from the students in rural Siem Reap how the school closure has affected them and also what they are looking forward to now that schools are open again.
We spoke with Rady, Kongnov and Somkhann on their first day back at school and noticed a common theme was around online access to virtual learning.
The cumulative effect of slow internet, lack of preparedness for online learning and significantly fewer lessons compared to the usual curriculum means that students will have to work incredibly hard in order to catch up!
Now what about the things to look forward to now that schools are open again?
Rady felt that just by being with her classmates is enough motivation for her to learn better. Kongnov and Somkhann are grateful that they will again be able to discuss with her classmates and teachers the lessons they had.
We certainly wish them an enjoyable and fruitful learning experience in school. Hopefully one of the positives of not being able to go is the appreciation how much social interaction takes place at school besides of course the invaluable learning and setting students up for life to pursue their dreams!
Taste of Positivity - Chapter 4
"When life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient" - Steve Maraboli
COVID 19 continues to impact many lives in rural Cambodia.
PeopleStories is grateful to be able to continue to face the challenges together with the students and families who are in urgent need.
Since April, we have gifted 4.4 tonnes of rice, 1,380 eggs, 230 storybooks, 60 packs of school supply, 8 tins of milk powder…and more importantly to show our care to the communities.
Our sincere thanks to all our donors and our passionate volunteers Veasna Chhor, Jeff Ng and Pok Sarith to make this happen, again and again!
We humbly invite you to give us a helping hand to support these children and their families: http://bit.ly/PSF_S4L201920
Learning Offline... Literally!
We at PeopleStories strongly believes in making a real difference for the students and communities we serve. One of the ways how we achieve that is by working very closely with teachers in Cambodia and today we speak with teacher Sarit about the impact of COVID19 on schools and learning in rural Cambodia.
Teacher Sarit works at Ta Ey High School and teaches English for grades 8 and 10. He is a strong believer in education and has been an invaluable supporter of PeopleStories.
Q: How do the teachers monitor the progress of the students?
We meet up with the students with our lessons and exercises. Then we will collect the work at our next meeting. It is not so effective because we are not meeting every day and it is difficult to get all the work back.
Thank you teacher Sarit for sharing this!
It is sometimes easy to forget how relatively easy most of us have it in developed cities and countries and how difficult it is in remote and rural areas when it comes to learning especially during school closures. Full credit to all the teachers trying their very best to visit students and continue learning in small groups without having the benefit of technology or the internet.
We at PeopleStories are working on a solution to start addressing this challenge by taking the first step in mobile learning. Stay tuned and we hope to have some further exciting news soon!
As COVID19 continues to challenge the everyday lives in rural Siem Reap, PeopleStories keeps with up with the care & support where it is most needed.
So far, 3 tones of rice, 170 storybooks, 1,160 eggs plus more have been shared with the vulnerable students and their families.
Our Relief Program wouldn't be possible without the dedicated support from our local team and teachers.
Quality of Education is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the members of the United Nations in 2015 as a blueprint for peace and prosperity for the people and the planet. In recent years, we have witnessed tremendous improvements in the quality of learning and collaboration especially in our modern world.
In many countries, education is a huge business. For example, in Australia, education is it's 3rd largest industry, still growing and estimated to be worth over $33billion by 2025! The EdTech sector just saw Yuanfudao raise $1billion to service its 400m users and they are joining a group of 14 EdTech unicorns valued over $1billion.
With our Khmer For Success literacy program we have identified and started to address exactly this issue. Through accurate student assessment, teachers and schools able to effectively direct their efforts to specifically help those students who need it.
Whilst we do not have the means to install the next 5G network to enable digital education, we strongly believe that our efforts (with your kind support!) are going a long way to start tackling the learning poverty from the ground up with a combination of school infrastructure support, teacher training, student motivation through sports, learning assessments and of course the sponsorship of underprivileged students who will hopefully become role models for their communities of what can be achieved through the power of education!
When we talk about collaborative effort then this also includes you!
Want to help education more inclusive, effective and resistant?
Share your idea with us below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to bring more awareness to this learning crisis we are together facing?
Share this post with your network and have a conversation about what you can do.
*Links to data source and references have been embedded in the contents.
Bringing 100 Dreams to Life!
At PeopleStories we are very clear on our purpose and vision. We want to ‘Set positive change in motion’ and see ‘A world where everyone is empowered to shape their own story’. How do we do that? We ‘Create greater access to knowledge for those in need!’.
As the famous quote from Nelson Mandela goes, ‘Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world!’.
One of the most tangible examples of our action is the annual gifting of School for Life scholarships. Just a couple of weeks ago, we held multiple school ceremonies where we celebrated the new school year and inspired (for now) 100 sponsored students to pursue their dreams.
So, does our action help furthering our purpose? Yes, absolutely!
We are changing the world one student, one family, one school and one community at a time. Importantly though, we get everyone involved to grow as individuals as well who accept and understand that they have a choice and that they are able to pursue their dreams!
I am confident that the students we personally witnessed at those ceremonies have taken away a lot more than ‘only’ a bicycle, a uniform and some school supplies.
We, with the help of our very kind donors and supporters, provide the students with ability and with confidence so that our purpose and vision become their own. They know and feel that they are empowered to shape their own story!
Onward and Upward
With a feet-on-the-ground presence, PeopleStories has been working closely with various schools in rural Cambodia since 2017 and this year we have our first group of scholarship students progressing from secondary school to high school. Such a fantastic milestone to be celebrated!
With this incredible milestone, we took an opportunity to catch up with two of our PeopleStories Scholars who have just graduated from Grade 9 from Chea Smonn Secondary school. They are now getting ready to progress to Grade 10 at a new school, Bakong High School, in November 2019.
First, we spoke with BunSao who is a 16 year old young man. Both of BunSao’s parents are farmers. He also has 5 brothers and 2 sisters. Having 8 children in the family, life hasn’t been as easy for him nor his siblings. In fact, some of his siblings had to quit school and start working at a very young age in order to bring home some extra income.
So you want to be an engineer? Why?
I just think Cambodia needs a lot of engineers. We need many new buildings and construction works to improve our country. If I’m an engineer, I can help my family a lot. Plus, I will be very strong! [laughs]
How has the PeopleStories Scholarship impacted your life?
I have two other sisters in my family and my father is a fisherman. My family is very poor and that’s why my older sister had to quit school to find a job at a very young age. She works as a cashier at a guest house. If I didn’t get the scholarship from PeopleStories, I’d most probably have to find a job to support myself going to school. That would have been very hard, but I have no choice. I’d still do it because I love school so much. [pauses] But I’m thinking, maybe if I had to work and go to school at the same time, I probably wouldn’t have won the Highest Performing Student Award.
Interviewed by: Teacher Song at Chea Smonn Secondary School
Translated by: PeopleStories Team
To break the cycle of poverty by advancing education for underprivileged students, families and communities in need.