Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
The King will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." .......Matthew 25
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Seated on my right are: Commune Head, Principal, Village Head, Village Dy Head.
We had a bit of hiccup earlier when the commune leader indicated that he might not be able to attend because of a clash of duties as Prime Minister Hun Sen's son was going to visit the village. But things worked out and we are glad the commune leadership was represented in our school opening ceremony.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
We had the opportunity to visit a remote village in Santuk district. Santuk is the district just north of Baray, and this village in an area called Kom Pup Om Bel, is about 10kms deeper than our last village school in Andaut.
In some ways the village is reminiscent of a previous village we visited, Tropeang Russei, in that it is kind of a re-settlement village with new families. The land seems rather dry and ill-suited for farming, Tapioca (casava) appears to be a major crop. There seems to be Chinese/Vietnamese industrial influences all around, though not really visible. The village itself is rather sparse and scattered although there are supposedly 400 families living in the area. No schools noted, although there was mention of a school set up for workers in these Chinese/Vietnamese concerns.
The headman is young, active and supportive of the educational mission. Samrong Church (Ps Kea) has a member Ps Cheat who is prepared to move into the community with his family. One of his family members run a provision shop and pharmacy.
A 3 classroom school plus a drill well will cost us about US$30K. Should we? The village has already identified the land for the school.
In Cambodia, the schools are all double-sessioned, and plagued by corruption and cheating. The quality of education is suspect and the schools system runs in parallel with a corrupt private tuition scheme. Brehm & Silova (2014) has written an excellent review of this complex and dishonest system operating in Cambodia. Recently, the government appears to be making some attempts to deal with these problems and to improve the quality of education in Cambodia. The recent moves to crack down on corruption at the Grade 12 exams resulted in massive numbers of failures and considerable grief to the students accustomed to being able to cheat their way through the exams.
They have also made moves to improve teacher salaries. What we heard in the villages is that together with salary increases, the government is also banning teachers from teaching over two sessions. We do not know what the implications will be for classroom utilization. The assumption is that teachers will teach only one session, and students will therefore have to get used to a one session school. However, this does not appear to be the case. Schools will continue to operate over two sessions, so technically there will be twice the numbers of teachers.
The schools we had built in the past years are now fully occupied. Three classrooms operating two sessions handle students over Grades 1-6. Currently there appears to be no demand for extra space, should schools move towards a one session system.
We are keeping our eyes on these developments.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Monday, November 5, 2012
What a joy to behold on this trip, how the classes had taken root. The teachers were a wonderful pair. In particular, the old gentleman who was a retired police officer was so wonderful with the children. It was a real joy to see how the children responded to him, and how eager they were to volunteer to practice their lessons in front of the class.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
The very first school we built in 2005, was at a very poor village called Chhom Trach. Now, 7 years down the road, the school is going strong. A couple of years ago it was struggling through a rough patch with a rather amotivated teacher. We had to "incentivise" the government appointed teacher, and appoint one of our own (a retired Christian principal from another school). Now the school is bustling with activity, and the kids seem happy and keen about their schooling.
The school now runs 3 sessions (2 in the morning and one in the afternoon) in 2 classrooms for Grades 1-4. Grades 3 and 4 are a combined class because of the lack of teachers. There is also a problem of parents often pulling the kids (usually the older ones) out of classes in the afternoon because of work in the fields. We have decided that we will supplement the salary of another teacher/session so that Grades 3 and 4 can be run as separate classes. Then move the older classes to the morning.
Supporting the school in Chhom Trach costs us a fair bit. If you feel you can contribute to this effort, please write to me.