Now that Covid-19 is no longer keeping us in our houses and the world is settling into its “new normal,” it feels like a time to get back on track. For PeopleStories, getting back on track means giving deserving children in rural Cambodia greater access to quality education.
Unfortunately, Cambodia has struggled in education for decades. According to a UNICEF report, “Children continue to fall behind in school for a number of reasons, including not being adequately prepared for school, experiencing poor quality teaching and learning, and attending school irregularly. This eventually leads to many of them dropping out altogether.”
Amid the global pandemic educators around the world scrambled to figure out the best approach to continue educating its youth. Online learning became a household term very quickly. Laptops were being handed out. Zoom became a classroom. In the rural villages of Cambodia, our children don’t have the luxury of digital devices or internet access. Many of the children come from poor families and they cannot afford computers, tablets, or smartphones. There is not sufficient internet access and connectivity is a debilitating issue in the rural areas.
PeopleStories and its dedicated team of local and international volunteers came together and brainstormed to come up with a program to best serve the children’s education needs. After months of meetings, sweat and tears, Smart School Anywhere was born! Our Founder, Victoria said, “Smart School Anywhere will bring education to rural children via a ‘classroom on wheels!’ This deployment of a mobile classroom equipped with digital education capabilities will benefit many children at Rolous Secondary School and Chea Smonn Secondary School.”
Digital School is Stage 1 of Smart School Anywhere and it went live this month! It’s a very exciting time for all of us. I spoke with our virtual volunteer, Roberta, who is leading the Learning and Design team and asked her to describe some of the challenges faced during the Digital School development process. Roberta reflected on the Covid pandemic delaying two launch dates in early 2022. She also shared, “There have been a few hurdles along the way, like ascertaining a curriculum for our first course to match our learners’ knowledge level and needs in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).”
For many of the children, this is their first time ever sitting down at a laptop. The basics of learning what a keyboard is, and a mouse, and how to use them was part of a 3-session orientation. Overall, the children are very excited about Digital School and eager to learn more. We were very curious to find out what the children were feeling after they had a chance to get hands-on time on the computers. Student Pheak explained how he is very excited about digital school and always comes to class early and said, “I’m interested in this digital school so much and my parents also help urge me to come to school on time and regularly.”
The Cambodian people are resilient and hard working and given the proper tools, and opportunities, will overcome their challenges, including the obstacles hindering their advancement in education. Obstacles like limited internet connection, lack of digital devices, and digital illiteracy.
These deserving children in rural Cambodia need access to quality education for them to uplift themselves from poverty. Our Smart School Anywhere and Digital School will equip the children with the skills for a brighter future. Victoria humbly shared, “Our Digital School uses a remote server that holds all of our learning contents. It does not require any internet, but learning feels similar to online as our e-learning units are in web pages/web-based.”
It’s evident the children have excitement for learning. They are ready to learn about the digital world. Can you feel the hope and excitement in their words about Digital School?
Join us and help uplift the future generations. 100% of donations goes directly to keep our programs like Smart School Anywhere and Digital School continue.: PeopleStories SchoolForLife 2022 (raisely.com)
Story written by: Volunteer Kathy Aunkst
Since 2020 and with COVID spreading fast, children in rural Cambodia could not access any learning for months and this is what sparked the idea for a Mobile School.
Together with the district Governor of Bakong, PeopleStories recently announced the Smart School Anywhere initiative to bring digital and vocational learning to children in rural Cambodia.
Director of the Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports (Bakong District) Mr. Tann Reangsey said, “One thing we (the Ministry) value about working with PeopleStories is our ‘common goal’ which is to help our children gain a better future through education. I really enjoy our open, honest and understanding partnership with PeopleStories.”
Developing digital programs to bring to the children has been a huge part of making the Mobile School a reality. Our international volunteer Vata has been working hard with others in the development of the e-learning modules. Vata shared, “I am glad to be part of the Learning & Development team. Currently I am supporting our Smart School Anywhere project by designing the Information & Communications Technology (ICT) e-learning modules.”
He continued, “I am pretty excited about getting the children to discover the world of ICT in a fun way.”
Bringing digital learning to some of the most remote areas of Cambodia certainly presents unique challenges. Access to stable internet and children that do not have experience with online technology are just a couple of those hurdles that need to be explored when creating digital educational programs.
Lowering school drop-out, keeping the children engaged in education, teaching them 21st century skills to better their lives is at the heart of this project. Everyone involved has been working hard for months to get to this moment with one clear purpose: to bring quality education to the Cambodian children.
Help empower the next generation today: https://ps-schoolforlife2022.raisely.com
Story written by: Volunteer Kathy Aunkst
PeopleStories is gearing up to implement Smart School Anywhere (SSA), a new initiative that has recently been approved by the Governor of Bakong and it will transform rural education from “Chalk & Talk” to “Flick & Click”.
The key features of SSA are more ICT-trained teachers, greater digital literacy skills for children and supporting the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports’ strategic goals. The benefits will be greater school enrolments, lower dropouts, greater academic results and better future workforce. Smart School Anywhere will be a role model for innovation, which we hope to roll out to more schools.
Chee Ming mused, “PeopleStories provides a good opportunity for me to be more involved in volunteering work, one where I can be more directly involved in the overall end-to-end charity program. It also allows me to learn the operations of a Charity organisation, from which my horizons are widened. Perhaps this experience may lead to further opportunities in more charity operations or activities.”
Working with the SSA team which is fully staffed by volunteers is a challenging process. Hence, Chee Ming seeks to understand the working dynamics of the SSA team by adopting an open and receptive mindset to seek and learn continuously.
The SSA initiative aims to help young Cambodians with greater job readiness when they graduate from high school, arm them with the necessary skills for 21st century and transform lives through greater access to quality education. This is in line with our eventful goal of sustainable partnership.
What is something new Chee Ming is starting in 2022? He shared readily, “I am working to improve and expand my current exercise plans to keep up my health and fitness. Equally important, I am also going to meet up more frequently with friends. Especially when these have been hampered by the earlier Covid restrictions.”
We are sure Chee Ming will be able to keep up with his resolutions by incorporating it into his daily schedule. What about you? What is something you are starting in 2022 as you gear up for the year? Want to help the underprivileged students gear up too?
Story written by: Volunteer Bok Hoon Ong
We are excited to announce that the Ministry of Education, Youth & Sport in Bakong District has agreed to partner with PeopleStories to implement our new program Smart School Anywhere (SSA).
With sparks in her eyes, Victoria further shared, “Smart School Anywhere Phase 1 will bring digital learning to secondary school children via a Mobile Classroom as early as January 2022. I am forever grateful for our team of well-qualified professionals donating their time and expertise, we are now developing a series of e-learning units using effective design principles”.
The concept of a Mobile Classroom will bring along necessary digital equipment including laptops starting with Rolous and Chea Smonn Secondary Schools in Bakong as early as January 2022. Children will enjoy free digital learning classes of: Technology, Critical Thinking, Mathematics, English and Khmer. The road map shows our projections of the 3 key phases of Smart School Anywhere.
With 1 in 5 children dropping out of school, PeopleStories is committed to enable children with greater access to quality education in rural Cambodia. With Smart School Anywhere initiative, we aim to help young Cambodians with greater job readiness when they graduate from high school, arm them with the necessary skills for 21st century and transform lives through greater access to quality education.
The key features of Smart School Anywhere are more ICT-trained teachers, greater ICT skills for students and supporting the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports’ strategic goals. The benefits will be greater school enrolments, lower dropouts, greater academic results and better future workforce. Smart School Anywhere will be a role model for innovation, which we hope to roll out to more schools.
PeopleStories is currently seeking for partners to work together for our new initiative Smart School Anywhere. We are looking for an education institute and a technology company to partner with us in transform education from “Chalk & Talk” to “Flick & Click”. Email us at Team@PeopleStoriesCharity.org to start your change maker journey with PeopleStories.
Story written by: Volunteers Bok Hoon Ong and Pei Khoek