From Conference Centre to the Playground: A visit to Cambodia’s rural schools
A recent trip to Cambodia turned into an eye-opening experience for Navitas English Academic Team Leader, Vlasta Gunning.
Vlasta had planned to visit Cambodia to attend the CamTESOL conference for a number of years - and finally decided to undertake the trip in February 2019.
While planning her trip, Vlasta found out about the 12 Navitas Education Trust (NET)-funded schools which are located in rural Battambang, Cambodia. After reading about the initiatives, she decided to pay the schools a visit.
Once the CamTESOL conference had wrapped up in Phnom Penh, Vlasta commuted for six hours on a bus to Battambang; a city of around 120 thousand people which is surrounded by small villages, where the average daily wage is around US$3.00.
On her journey, Vlasta uncovered the hardships that school-aged children endure. Many Cambodian families living in these rural villages migrate to Thailand for work, taking their children out of school for many months at a time. With no option for re-entering classes upon their return, many of these children drop out of school at an early age.
Despite the challenges Cambodian children face, children at these schools have benefited from newly installed clean water facilities, replenished libraries and a plentiful vegetable garden. Parents of the students often stay in the school yard, looking through the classroom windows to learn with their children. Students from the local university also participate as volunteers at the school and the community and offer support by providing buildings, supplying food or other necessities.
In 2013, Navitas joined with Classroom of Hope to fund the Schools for Excellence (SFE) program across seven schools (Grades 1 to 6), directly supporting 1,762 children. The program was so successful that, in 2016, a second program was rolled out to meet the needs of another 1,785 children in five more schools. By the end of 2018, enrolments at the five new schools had increased to 2,161, with significant improvements to school administration and promotion.
These schools are an integral part of the community, and continue to provide vital education, skills and friendships to school children and the community abroad. To find out more about the Classroom of Hope go to classroomofhope.org.