This year marked PEPY’s third annual Literacy Camp, and this time around, things were different from the previous two years’ sessions. Maria Hach sat down with PEPY’s Education Program Manager, Ratana Sung Chan, to discuss what set this year’s Literacy Camp apart from the others.
This September PEPY held its third annual Literacy Camp, with teachers from Chanleas Dai school participating, offering programs to students from two schools —Chanleas Dai and Prasat Knar. ‘Over 700 students participated in this year’s Literacy Camp,’ states Ratana, ‘a huge increase from last year.’ More than 60 government teachers also took part, and were required to participate in a week-long training and skills share beforehand. The aim of this training was to explore teaching methodology, child behavior, curriculum development and lesson planning, critical thinking and creativity, using open and closed questions, classroom resources, and evaluating and assessing comprehension. ‘As well as learning important teaching practices, it is a good opportunity for teachers in the area to come together and share ideas,’ suggests Ratana.
Ratana explains that, by placing the camp at the beginning of the teaching year, PEPY hopes to encourage students to get excited about the new school year as well as foster a general love of learning and reading among students and teachers alike. The purpose of the Literacy Camp is to develop ideas and cultivate a more child-friendly learning environment. Ratana says that, ‘in terms of activities, the things that students did were not so different from the previous years—working independently, working in groups, making story books, making creative posters, and playing observation games.’
What did change, Ratana noticed, was the relationship between students and teachers. ‘Students were grouped differently from last year—in terms of their academic abilities, enabling teachers to concentrate more on the specific needs of their students.’ The big difference this year was the program’s interaction with the community, and sourcing of local resources and materials. ‘Rather than bringing things in from Siem Reap, we used things that were available in and around the two schools,’ says Ratana. He claims that the reaction of parents, teachers, and community members has been the biggest difference compared to the other years. ‘Parents are surprised at the change in their children. They tell me that they are more confident, that they wonder about everything and ask more questions—they are very proud, and understand the importance of education.’ This is represented by the turnout at the Literacy Camp graduation ceremony where there were more than 300 parents, friends, and family members supporting the students.
We’ve shared some pictures from Prasat Knar’s graduation ceremony on our Flickr site. Check them out here.