Creative Learning Classes (CLC) were established in 2009. The main objective of these classes was to enhance the knowledge and skills of students in the areas of critical thinking and problem solving, through the use of technology. In addition, it was hoped that the classes would help to improve the overall quality of education at Chanleas Dai Junior High School, where the program operated. Through the use of XO computers, educational games, and learning clubs/workshops, each week over 200 students had the opportunity to focus on critical thinking and creative problem solving, skills which were previously undeveloped.
In 2013, whilst PEPY* was seeking to transition out of the program, the community expressed interest in taking over, and it was decided that the principal, along with the rest of the teaching staff at the school, would deliver the program. Therefore, in mid-2013, we started working with, and training, the government teachers so that they would be equipped with the necessary knowledge to conduct the program independently. However, after working together for a number of months, it became apparent to the teachers that they lacked the necessary time to carry out these educational needs, and as a result, the decision was made to not continue with the program. Although PEPY sought another NGO with a similar vision, mission, goal, and values, to those of our own to see if they would be interested in taking over the program, we were unable to find such an NGO. Therefore, at the end of the academic year 2013-14, the CLC program ceased operation.
- The students who attended CLC class were more confident in expressing themselves and their ideas, especially when working in groups. When given a group assignment to complete by teachers, students who were enrolled in the CLC program were more likely to lead said groups.
- Moreover, teachers at Kralanh High School commented that the students from Chanleas Dai Junior High School were noticeably brave and confident in their attitudes by comparison to students from other communes.
- Parents noted children were more confident in their learning ability, as well as when, both asking and answering questions.
- About 90% (one class of approximately 32 students) could use XO computers and access the Internet.
- Through the use of the LEGO robotics kits, students developed a basic knowledge of programming and structural design.
- In each year, around 70% (one class of approximately 32 students) of students delivered very good presentations. They were evaluated on the information they gave, how they conducted the presentation and how they worked as a team.
Challenges / Lessons learned
- Critical thinking and problem solving are not familiar concepts in Cambodia, and many do not recognize the benefits of these skills. Therefore, we found the CLC to be of low priority for students, whose attendance suffered in favor of work opportunities which provided immediate material, and financial gain. We strove to make classes relevant to the student’s everyday lives.
- It was not only student engagement that proved to be a challenge, but also that of government teachers in the junior high school. Conscious efforts were made by PEPY to ensure that the teachers were involve in the development of the program, and their school as a whole. We sought to do this so the teachers felt invested in the project themselves. However, we found that attendance of training and classes was poor, as was reflected by the students, which eventually contributed to the dissolution of the program.
- It’s no good having amazing learning tools if teachers don’t know how to use them! Our educators spent a lot of time learning about XO computers and LEGO kits to be able to use these resources to their full capacity.
- Nothing lasts forever! While the XO computers are robust machines, the battery and the mouse pad were the first things to break. Therefore, PEPY was faced with the option of either reinvesting in more computers, or finding another, innovative way of teaching these same skills once the XOs were rendered unusable.
- PEPY began the program without a clear exit strategy, and the school and teachers entered the program without an insight into taking over the CLC independently. Therefore, a lack of preparation and commitment meant that they were ill-quipped and unable to run the program in the absence of PEPY.
For more detailed information about this program, find our past program reports here.
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• Building creativity through Lego
• Back to school – Creative Learning Class
• Redesigning Pedagogy through Creative Learning Class
*Up until January 2015 PEPY Empowering Youth was known as PEPY, read more about our localization here.