Community Development Workshops

Tuesday, October 2014
by Colm Byrne

20140622_103822The PEPY Scholarship Program seeks to have a positive impact on both the individual students and the their wider communities in Kralanh.

The Scholarship Program funds the education of young Cambodians from Kralanh to study in Siem Reap, with the overall goal being improving their qualifications and skills in order to connect them to employment. As part of their agreement with PEPY students must continue to support the development of education in the rural communities of Kralanh. Through the students experiences and what they share awareness is developed in the communities as to the positive impact which education can make on individuals and society more generally. One of the ways this awareness was recently enhanced was through the community development workshops.

DSCN4410The workshops, which the students provided, focused on three succinct areas. There was a dedicated group for each area. The first group concentrated on health, the second group showed how learning through games can be effective, while the final group were concerned with goal setting. The students involved had to work within a team and each individual had to have a clear role within their team. The success of the workshop was their collective responsibility and this required all individuals to work effectively within the group. More detailed information on each individual workshop will be contained in future blogs.

Before commencing the workshops, all the students had much work to do. Working together they provided a detailed written proposal to the Scholarship Program Officer. In this they outlined the purpose of the workshop, their goals and how these goals would be best achieved. They drew up a budget plan and outlined their future expenditure. Lesson plans were required for the work with children and all groups sought to involve parents, village chiefs and other community leaders. The students also had to source and book an inspirational speaker to address the community.

Each group spent two days in the schools and communities. They sought to get the participants active in their learning and to increase 20140622_091225the level of understanding among the wider community. They involved the parents and village chiefs in as many activities as possible.

There were, of course, challenges which the students faced. It was almost impossible to ensure all relevant community stakeholders were in attendance. Many parents were absent and this was a source of frustration for the students. In addition the students found it  difficult to keep the younger school children on task at all times.

Generally speaking these workshops were very worthwhile however. The children showed great enthusiasm for the workshops and there was an effective knowledge transfer. Individuals in the communities learned effectively by doing practical activities. The students inspired others and the profile of education was enhanced within the communities.

The scholarship students themselves gained valuable experience from these workshops. Practical thinking skills and leadership skills were developed. These sessions provided an effective mechanism to empower the students to be leaders and they acted as role models for children and young people in their communities.  This empowerment benefited not only the students themselves but the wider communities at large.