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Lily Mackow-Mcguire

Cambodia Annual Report: In a nutshell

In September 2018, GVI launched programs in Cambodia for the first time. Working in the province of Kampong Cham, GVI found education to be the most recognisably useful asset for local community members to accelerate their opportunities and quality of life. Specifically, education enables one to reach higher education and skilled employment in Cambodia. Consequently, we have now partnered with a multitude of local NGO’s to provide free English lessons and workshops to the local community. 

Since September 2018, we have taught approximately 285 community members through our workshops. Topics have ranged from career techniques to women’s empowerment. On a daily basis, we teach an average of eighty students in beginner English. From September- December 2018 we have tripled the number of volunteers coming to work with us. We look forward to growing our hub even further in 2019 to reach a greater number of community members and make a bigger impact in Kampong Cham.

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All our classes have begun on a pre-beginners curriculum that has been created internally by GVI to teach English to students who do not use a roman alphabet in their native language. Many beginners courses assume learners already have a firm understanding of the alphabet and how phonemes can be combined to create words. In Cambodia, however, this is not the case and the Khmer alphabet works very differently comprising over 70 letters. As such we have been focusing heavily upon pronunciation of phonics and blending base sounds together to create syllables and words.

Our students learn at very different paces, although progress has been achieved in all of our classes over the past four months. With a strong ethos for learning and systemic advantages our students at the pagoda have learnt at the quickest rate and are now roughly a third of the way through the curriculum and have consistently passed progress tests required to advance through the curriculum.

Students at Apsara and Happy Happy Centre have also shown strong progress, particularly with speaking and listening components of the curriculum. However, BSDA are currently facing challenges across all their institutes with regard to attendance as many parents are reluctant to send their children to schools and drop-in centres instead of having them contribute financially towards their family. Moving forward, it is our priority to lead workshops and trainings to parents of our students, to ensure we have the backing and support of families across the province.

We have made great strides in ensuring equal access to education for male and females in Kampong Cham. On average, girls occupy 45% of our classes and 65% of our workshops. We are continuing to work with our local partners to ensure that all of our classes have equal numbers of boys and girls.

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Moving Forward

In 2019 we already have exciting developments planned. We will be launching our second fundraiser to raise money for our healthcare program. We plan to start this program by providing each student with a toothbrush kit and teaching students how and why to use these.

We plan to begin workshops every other week on vocational topics to support our students and community members alongside their employment or education. These workshops provide the opportunity for community members who are not our regular students to benefit from GVI; enabling us to reach a larger number of community members. In 2019, we look forward to beginning the year with our second workshop focused on women’s empowerment.

Finally, as we are getting to know our students and their personalities, we are continuing to think of new and creative ways to maximise the effectiveness of our teaching. We have divided our kids class by age, now teaching under 11’s separately to over 11’s to allow students to receive more tailored teaching according to their age. We have introduced a fourth class at Boeng Snay Pagoda, now teaching nearly 100 students at the pagoda each morning. Our new class opening is for the younger members of the pagoda, providing opportunity to young students who can utilise English in their future careers and education.

There are a multitude of issues that hinder community members from reaching their potential economically and in terms of well-being. So far our project has focused on what we understand as the priority of the community. As we continue to work here, we continue to discover more routes we need to work on and as the community’s needs change, so will our work.

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