Village children attend a Youth Star class
My recent progress reports have talked about the transforming work of our current group of 25 Youth Star volunteers in educating children and youth in remote rural Cambodian communities. My most recent report described Mr. CHHEOUN Tola's different pathway to becoming a Youth Star volunteer in the Preah Domrei commune and how his enthusiastic approach is changing the lives of people in that community.
This report focuses on the benefits of working together and how our partnerships with non-government organisations - and members of the communities in which we work - have enabled us to achieve more than we ever could on our own.
Since August 2015 we have worked closely with Aide et Action, who is also helping fund some of our activities. Our monitoring and evaluation of our work in Kampong Thom province shows this collaboration has helped us:
- run maths, Khmer and English lessons for 1,650 children (on average each volunteer spends 4 hours a day on these lessons)
- run seven school enrolment campaigns with over 2,800 participants; including children, students, teachers, monks, local authorities and parents—a particular focus of our work with Aide et Action is to encourage 'out-of-school children' to return to school
- establish 10 youth and children’s clubs.
(These statistics are separate from our other Youth Star work and involve the work of 10 of our current cohort of volunteers.)
Just as Youth Star brings skills and different approaches to rural Cambodian communities, we are also continually learning better approaches and strategies from our partners to help us improve the delivery of our programs.
Aide et Action has provided training to our volunteers to help them identify 'out of school children'. This training also examines the reasons why these children do not attend classes and provides practical strategies to get them to attend school. Aide et Action has delivered or sponsored educational programs in many poor nations so we have a lot to learn from its experience.
A key strategy is working with parents to demonstrate to them how education can change their children's lives. Due to the social upheaval of recent Cambodian history and general rural poverty many of these parents will not have received any education or only minimal tuition. Because of their own experiences these parents will often not understand how pulling their child out of school harms their child’s future work prospects.
Simply having Youth Star volunteers living and working in their community provides parents with a different perspective on their child's future prospects. Many community members will never have met a university graduate and their interaction with our volunteers, who regularly visit the homes of all out-of-school children in their community, enables them to ask questions and receive information they would otherwise not obtain. Our volunteers provide much needed role models in these communities.
Aide et Action is helping support 10 of our current group of volunteers in Kampong Thom province and also provides some educational materials to assist the running of our children's and youth clubs. These clubs, which form the hub of our educational program, demonstrate the power of collaboration. Youth Star volunteers organise training from educational authorities for club members in how to run lessons for other village children - the club members are sometimes referred to as 'small teachers'. Club members learn how to set up group reading sessions, how to manage a classroom and the four different stages in developing the reading skills of out-of-school children and slow learners. They also learn how to maintain and operate our mobile school libraries.
Establishing partnerships and ongoing networks is the key to the success of our programs. Even our Youth Star alumni have their own network which regularly meets to promote the benefits of our volunteering and our self-help approach. And of course the cycle goes on - we are currently recruiting our next batch of 10 volunteers to commence early in 2016.
I hope that you and your families enjoy this period of general celebration and relaxation, and I wish you all the best for 2016. I hope you continue to support Youth Star and our work — and if you are looking for a last-minute present to give at Christmas please consider a donation to Youth Star!
As always, if you would like any further detail on Youth Star’s programs and activities please send me an email at email@example.com.
20 of Youth Star's current volunteers
Local children visit Youth Star volunteer Sopheak
Youth Star working in an improvised classroom