by Vannak Lach and Stephanie Boegeman
Sreytho is well known among the children at Chanleas Dai Primary School. Sreytho works in the library thinking of new and innovative ways to foster a love of reading because she strongly believes that if children around the country make reading a part of their daily lives, they are more likely to remain in Cambodia and take advantage of domestic job opportunities. Currently many Cambodians migrate to Thailand illegally to seek work because of a lack of job opportunities in rural Cambodia. These immigrants often face many problems from illness, to run-ins with the police, to families separated between two countries.
In large part through her encouragement, children have been coming more and more frequently to the library to read books. To motivate the students, Sreytho gives an award to the student who reads the most books every month. "Reading Champions" have their photographs posted on the wall in the library and receive a few books from the library as a reward. In conjunction with this contest, Sreytho makes sure that students find books that match their reading level and encourages them to read increasingly challenging books day by day. She also checks comprehension by asking students questions about the books they finish and encouraging them to reread the text if they don’t remember the answer.
The bustling library is a testament to the success of ideas that Sreytho has implemented. “Whenever we get new books in, I am very busy," she explains. "The students come at the same time, competing with one another for new books to read.” In order to better serve more students in the library, she has asked older students to take on a leadership role by helping her in checking the reading comprehension of their younger classmates. By always putting her students' needs first, Sreytho has gained a great deal of respect while helping equip this next generation of leaders with the skills and tools needed to achieve success personally as well as for the community at large.