Seeing all the challenges the world is facing right now, it’s a bit of a mental juggling act to associate positivity with COVID19. However, I truly believe that every challenge provides an opportunity to step up and have a positively respond. This is exactly the same for the PeopleStories team and the schools in Cambodia.
We have also seen a range of different responses globally when it comes to schools and COVID19. Singapore and Australia schools still remain largely open whilst Cambodia including all our 8 partner schools in the Bakong district have been closed since March 16, 2020 in order to control the spread of the virus.
Working very closely with the schools and also the Ministry of Education, the PeopleStories team has decided to also suspend all after school activities such as coaching, the 2020 Football Tournament that was meant to be held in March and the Khmer for Success literacy program.
What is more interesting though is how the current health threat drives behaviour and how schools and teachers constructively and positively respond in an environment that is certainly less supportive and structured compared to many other countries.
At Chea Smonn Secondary School, the teachers and local community responded immediately by ensuring that basic hand wash infrastructure is in place. What we take for granted, for example the access to hand sanitizer and hand wash facilities, is not a given for every school in Cambodia. It is therefore even more pleasing to see the constructive (literally!) community response in installing a water tank in order to enable best possible hand washing hygiene!
Have a look at some of the photos from Chea Smonn Secondary School and the progress of installing the water tank.
Teachers and students at AhrangRengSey Secondary School were equally proactive and positive responding to the COVID19 challenge. Collectively they took it upon them to thoroughly clean all school desks and chairs which, for a school with more than 500 students, is no small feat!
One of the most important lessons out of COVID19 will undoubtedly be greater awareness of viruses and diseases spreading and how this can be controlled. What now starts out as a response to an individual event is an opportunity to positively change the mindset of students and communities with regards to personal hygiene. Education around this becomes an opportunity for schools to teach more than only academic skills and add life and social skills as well to create stronger and more resilient communities.
I wish everyone stay safe and healthy. I look forwarding to retrurning to the villages and schools in order to support the communities in need.