Dear Supporters, Teachers, Students, Parents and Family Members,
These are truly remarkable times and we would like to begin by expressing our deepest gratitude for the diverse and generous contributions each of you have made this year in helping ODC deliver on its educational mission. Even in the face of unprecedented adversity, your sustained commitment has helped us to not just endure, but to innovate. To find new, and often improved ways, to engage with our students. To bring to them not just English, but to demonstrate real life skills such as resilience, creativity and grit. To show them first-hand just how important their success is, to all of us.
As 2020 began, our focus was on delivering a newly created curriculum and experimenting with new classroom organizational plans. To fund our increasing student enrollment and bring in new educational resources we applied for and were accepted into the Spring 2020 GlobalGiving Accelerator competition. Our target goal(s), for dollars and new donors, was dramatically exceeded. Amongst 674 globally distributed charitable organizations who were also in the 2020 GlobalGiving Accelerator Program, ODC's fundraising campaign concluded in 5th overall place (i.e. among the top 1%) and in so doing also secured generous matching funds!
Midway during the GlobalGiving fundraising campaign the Covid-19 pandemic had reached Cambodia and in response the Education Ministry closed all schools. ODC closed immediately. Yet we remained committed to providing payroll support to our teachers and to finding safe ways to still reach our students. Numerous distance learning approaches were evaluated and ODC parents surveyed to determine which approaches could work best in their home settings. Given resource limitations – lack of internet, only modest availability of smart phones and the expressed preferences of parents – the ODC staff developed a distance learning educational system based on printed worksheets and weekly cell phone call check-ins with each student. Using socially distanced and mask/glove/hygiene safety precautions, each student’s weekly material is distributed in packets to parents’ along with graded materials from the week prior. Over 90% of student/families have participated in ODC’s distance learning program and the feedback from parents has been highly encouraging.
During the absence of children, we have been able to make important technology upgrades to our classrooms that will further enable our use of the internet and multimedia in teaching. These include LCD projectors and speakers as well additional copy/printing capabilities. Our classroom designs and class schedules have also been revisited to support the expected requirements for ensuring safety given Covid-19.
On July 3, the Education Mistry announced their intention to begin re-opening schools across Cambodia. The precise schedule has not been fully detailed, and schools will be re-opened in accordance with their ability to provide safety precautions. ODC expects to be re-opening soon in conjunction and in compliance with these new guidelines. While we are thrilled to begin to put the Covid-19 closure behind us, we know that the pandemic situation is fragile, and the status in Cambodia can rapidly change –which may require us to close yet again. If this becomes true, we will be remarkably, more prepared. What we have learned during this crisis has proven to be invaluable. We have new ways to teach, new levels of engagement with our student/families, and these we will be certain to nurture well beyond the pandemic.
The economic hardship unleashed by Covid-19 in our tourist dependent region will be long lasting. As we seek to empower our student’s future through education, we may have to find near-term creative ways to help them (and their families) endure these economic challenges as well. To begin, we have already established two new ODC scholarship programs. More details on these will be forthcoming.
In closing, we simply cannot do what we do without you. Please know that we are endlessly grateful. Your impact on Cambodia will be long lasting.
Founder and Headmaster, ODC Organization