Support 2000 Students in Cambodia

by This Life Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Support 2000 Students in Cambodia
Female student responds in Q&A session
Female student responds in Q&A session

Education and Gender Equality Awareness Campaigns 

During the last few months, the This Life In Schools team worked closely with the District Office of Education staff, School Support Committees, and schools to conduct Education and Gender Equality Awareness Campaigns at the end of April, 2022. The  purpose of this campaign was to promote gender equality in education and the importance of education. Overall, 2,598 participants (1,516 women) including 2,212 students (1,225 girls) took part. Attendees included parents, DoE staff, the District Governor, commune chiefs, village chiefs, School Support Committee members, Student Council members, teachers, monks, students, and community members. Disseminating messages about importance of education as well as ender-equitable education contributes to reductions in: i) school-related gender-based violence, ii) students dropping out of school, and iii) harmful practices including child marriage and early marriage, migration, and child labour. The events and the presentations of speakers produced a range of emotions among community participants because of the controversial nature of issues such as domestic violence, but they concluded in a good, positive spirit and with much knowledge gained. Certain parts of the events really touched the audiences, most notably when guest speakers shared their negative experiences and stories and this caused them or audience members to cry and express sadness at the difficult lives some of the speakers had had. The participants, however, also laughed and found joy when the students performed role plays. The events were ultimately uplifting because most of the guest speakers sharing these experiences had endured hardship to become leaders today. Guest speakers, parents, and student representatives, shared their success stories, reciting poems about the value of women and education, performing role plays, and taking part in question and answer sessions. Lots of questions were raised by the participants to the guest speakers related to these issues and concerns around education, gender equality and reducing violence in communities. 

More engagement leads to more improvement for Student Councils

Nita (name changed to protect identity) is a 15-year-old girl in grade 9, and is a Student Council Chairperson at her school. She lives with her parents in a family that has been identified in  the third rank of the Cambodian ‘ID poor’ classification system. There are four persons in her family; her father is a construction worker in Siem Reap town, and she has one sister who studies in grade 7 in the same school.   

Nita said, “In school, I am a student council chairperson and I have been leading this group for three years. In the first year, I had a hard time cooperating with the group because they were less involved and the school didn’t have good discipline and strong morals. The school environment was not clean, and - most notably - the students and parents did not understand the value of education. These things, therefore, have caused many students to drop out of school”.

She added, “After collaborating with teachers and having the support of This Life to organize the education campaign to disseminate the value of education, I see that my team has improved a lot. They have built a very good relationship, are more courageous, and also have great cooperation among themselves. This resulted in the school getting more disciplined, the environment getting cleaner, and children and parents understanding the value of education better. Active participation from the local authorities in school-related activities also followed”.

She said, “Finally, I would like to thank This Life very much for supporting so many activities, especially the valuable education campaign. In the future I will be determined to strengthen myself and the team even more, as well as to actively participate in school, to keep my team stronger, and make the school as much of a child-friendly school as we can”.

Parents participate in Q&A session
Parents participate in Q&A session
Nita - Student Council Chairperson
Nita - Student Council Chairperson
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School enrollment campaign
School enrollment campaign

Annual School Opening in Cambodia - 10 January 2022

Cambodia celebrated the opening of school day of schools for the the 2021-2022 academic year on January 10 for all public educational institutions across the country. The Cambodian Prime Minister sent a letter to the Ministry of Education calling on all students, teachers, and parents to celebrate this day. The Minister of Education participated in the school opening day in Prasat Bakong high school as an example; thousands of other schools celebrated at their own sites. With support from the This Life program team, all TLIS schools organized the school opening on the same day, with a total of 5,871 participants (3,496 women). This included 5,087 students (3,082 girls), and also involved local authorities, parents, School Support Committee (SSC) members, teachers and students. The annual school opening day plays an important role in education across Cambodia because it gives students and parents the opportunity to listen to the school regulations, learn the school schedule, and become familiar with the school development plan for the upcoming year.

This Life organised an enrollment campaign in late December and early January in advance of the school opening day event. This event succeeded in mobilising students of all grades to register their names for the new academic year and to remind parents and the community to support their children’s learning with study materials and motivation. 2,006 participants (1,174 women) joined the event; this included 1,647 students (980 girls) to join the event.

Before the school year starts teachers, School Support Committees, and Student Council members engage in preparations for the upcoming year. With support from TL, this year the preparation activities included:

  • cleaning the school grounds and classrooms, 
  • building toilet blocks, establishing handwashing and water systems,
  • creating school gardens and vegetable plots, and 
  • buying teaching and learning materials, and purchasing hygiene materials such as face masks, alcohol, thermometers, and sanitizing gel to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 in the school community.

Distribution of bicycles to facilitate transport to schools

Additionally, This Life provided 151 bicycles to support the most needy students. Bicycles are critical in enabling the safe and efficient transportation of students to schools; bicycles make increased attendance possible. 

Mrs. Sre Oun* - mother of beneficiary students

Sre Oun is 44 years old and lives in a district of Siem Reap province. She is a widower and lives with three children - one boy and two girls - in difficult conditions. Her first child studies in grade 10, and the second and third child are studying in grades 9 and 7 in lower secondary school. They live 5 kilometres from the school.

Sre Oun is a farmer who is very poor. She has not been able to afford to buy study materials or bicycles for her children to go to school. “Sometimes I forced them to stop studying, but they did not because SSC members, teachers, and their friends kept encouraging them to attend. They try hard to go to school by walking there, and they ask friends to go with them”, she said.   

Sre Oun added that, “I am so happy when I see SSC members and teachers work hard together to support students' learning, as this year my daughter received a bicycle. Not only my daughter, but also other poor children got one, too. I am excited about the school changes such as the nice garden, the good concrete school path, the school fence construction, the volleyball space, and that the water system is good for hand washing and the toilets are clean. All these changes let students learn within a good safe environment”.

Sre Oun concluded, “Finally, I promise to try my best to support my children’s learning until they finish grade 12. I would like to thank This Life for supporting my children’s school to make the big changes that it has made. Thanks also to SSCs and teachers that always work hard to improve the school”. 

*Name changed for anonymity purposes

Bicycle distribution
Bicycle distribution
Sre Oun with her daughter
Sre Oun with her daughter
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Schools have now re-oped in Cambodia as 80% of Cambodia's population over the age of 12 is now vaccinated, with an even higher percentage of teachers vaccinated. The Cambodian Ministry of Education announced the reopening of public and private schools nationwide from November 1, with a request for strict adherence to COVID-19 measures that were set by the Ministry of Health to prevent infections in classrooms.  Each classroom must allow only 15 to 20 students to study at a time to maintain distance.  Regular hand washing, mask-wearing are also required and the sale of food inside schools is prohibited.

To support the school reopening in accordance with the principle requirements, the This Life in Schools (TLIS) program team worked with local authorities, SSC, and teachers.  Small group meetings were held with parents and students in all villages covered by schools. These meetings and announcements helped them to understand the requirements of schools and what responsibility the parents have.  The parents’ responsibilities included ensuring their children were well prepared with masks, food, and drinking water to go to school. Schools had to ensure that the school environment was clean which included classrooms, toilets, and to have water systems set up.  The schools had to prepare first aid, thermometer, masks, alcohol, hand washing soap, and gels to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

 "I feel so happy to return to school because studying with teachers in class is much better than learning online,". She added “ Not only me, but my friends also think the same as me too,” one student named Seyha said. 

Mr. Ey Hang, is the Vice Chief of SSC in Hun Sen Svay Chek lower secondary school and the 2nd Deputy of Svay Chek commune. He became the Vice Chief of the School Support Committee when the program started in early 2020.  When the early program started, the SSC members were not fully participating in the school development,  his collaboration and relationship with the school were not very strong.

However, after six months of program implementation, he has done a lot of work to serve the community.  He has contributed to the improvement of the education sector through close collaboration and active involvement with all levels of stakeholders in both government and NGOs partners. He is very active within the SSC, and has worked to mobilize significant resources from all relevant partners and donated his own resources to support the school activities development plans. His efforts in resource mobilization have been supporting improvement in the quality of education, school environment, school infrastructure, partners’ involvement, and increased community awareness of the importance of education.

Mr. Hang said “I am very happy to join the school support committee because I want to help in developing my school and community and I want to see a lot of achievements occurring in the school which improve the quality of education, school environment, and school management. I would like to commit that I am going to participate in all the school's development activities”.




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Students participating in  a Learning Club
Students participating in a Learning Club

Efforts to prevent the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic have seen the prolonged closure of all schools in Cambodia on two separate occasions, affecting over three million children. 

Giving children alternative ways to learn and rebuild a routine has been a critical part of the response of the This Life In Schools (TLIS) program. We have supported schools to adapt and create safe environments for children when they have been able to return between the closures. Additionally, we have given school principals and teachers guidance and practical tips on how to deliver teaching and learning while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. 

Other areas supported include working with local authorities, communities and teachers to identify potential opportunities to employ distance learning based on the circumstances within communities. Education campaigns, worksheets for students, village based small learning groups, and online video conferencing platforms such Google Meet, Telegram, Zoom, Facebook and Messenger, were used to facilitate student learning where possible. 

Despite the challenges our support of students, schools and communities has resulted in 75% of students passing exams in grades 7 and 8, 10% decrease in students dropping out of school and an 80% enrolment rate from grade 6 (from feeder primary school) to Lower Secondary Schools.

Mr Piseth is 48 years old, a village chief and also a School Support Committee (SSC) chairperson of a school, about 83 kilometers from Siem Reap town. He was born in this community, and has lived there all his life. He has three children who all attend the school. 

Mr Piseth said “at the beginning of 2020, This Life Cambodia started working in partnership with the Maung Lower Secondary School. I am very happy because I recognised many issues facing the school at the ground level, such as school and community engagement, learning conditions, and education materials. The school is facing a major problem during the COVID-19 pandemic which caused several closures, so it did not have enough material to properly implement distance teaching and learning. 

With the TLC program implementation, and through funding and technical support, the school environment has changed, and become more beautiful. The SSC and local authorities are more engaged to support school development plan activities, we have some materials to practice distance learning, and we are finding new ways to support students who cannot join online learning activities. I am so happy to be a part of this improvement”

With a large percentage of the Cambodian population receiving the Covid vaccination and the roll out of vaccinations for children aged 12 to 17, we are optimistic that schools will reopen soon and children can return to their classes at school.

We will update you with stories of children returning to schools. Thank you to the wonderful donors who are supporting this program. Your support has enabled them to be part of learning clubs and to receive their lessons in many different ways during these difficult times. 

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Piseth leading a Committee meeting
Piseth leading a Committee meeting

Thank you to all of our loyal supporters. Your  continuing  generosity during these difficult times is greatly appreciated.

Since our last report, Covid-19 has now started to spread throughout our Cambodian Communities.  Sadly, Covid-19 cases have increased dramatically as a result of community infection in  February to over 7,700 people who have been infected. This has resulted in schools being closed at different times and communities and cities being placed in lockdown.

The impact of Covid-19 is being felt, even more so now than ever, by the families we support.  However, we are continuing to support children and families across all of our programs.  Procedures have been introduced to ensure staff and our communities are kept  safe and  we are adhering to government guidelines.

Some of the 16  schools we support are providing a range of alternative learning options,including  children collecting school work and working on assignments at home, online learning and Community Learning Clubs being established. 

Despite all of the disruptions, there are many success stories  We’d like to share with you, the impact your support has made for Piseth.  

Piseth  is 21 years old and his life has changed because of the support he has received from your generosity and his community.

He is in grade 12 and also a chair of the Student Council in a High School 56 km from Siem Reap.  Last year, he was a general student council member but this year he became a leader of the Student Council. He wants to be a tax officer in the future. 

Piseth is from a very poor family, he is the eldest of 5 children.   His parents had to go to Thailand to earn money, therefore, he was left with his siblings in the care of his aunt. With no house or land to live in, his aunt let him build a house on her land through assistance from the School Support Committee (SCC) , teachers, and his friends.  

Life was difficult for Piseth, when he was in grade 9, he wanted to drop-out of school because of his economic position.  He thought he should get a job to earn some money.  However, through support from his teachers, SSC, and his friends, he decided to continue to study.  

He said “education has changed me a lot. I used to be shy and sometimes wasn't a good person, but now I can communicate with teachers, SSC, and other community members, I think about myself and my siblings’ future goals. I know what I should do to improve myself and the community. And now I have become more friendly to other people and other people also love me too. It comes from me getting  a high education”.

Piseth is an active person,and gives back to his community by being actively involved in fundraising to support school development plan activities, he takes the lead to improve the school environment, and he takes his time to teach other students below his grade or in the same grade to get a good learning performance. He is an outstanding student and good at poetry writing.

He added “As now I am in grade 12, I will try harder in study to get success and get a better job. I hope I will get success with my future goal. At the end, I would like to say thanks to everybody who has supported me”.

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Organization Information

This Life Cambodia

Location: Siem Reap - Cambodia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @tlcambodia
Project Leader:
Claire Backhouse
Siem Reap, Siem Reap Cambodia
$9,551 raised of $20,000 goal
 
121 donations
$10,449 to go
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