1. WeDo workshop for students and teachers – This year we had a robotics workshop for our teachers and students at Chanleas Dai Junior High School. Nicole Richards, a software development group manager from National Instruments, and Christy Lauridsen, an engineer working for IBM, visited us from Texas to teach us how to use LEGO’s innovative WeDo robots in our Creative Learning classes. The three-day workshop gave our teachers an opportunity not only to learn about robotics and engineering from two professionals in the field, but also gave them ideas for how to teach their students with the advice and help of these talented professionals.
2. Teacher Assistance Program – This program, now in its fourth and final year, has recently been adapted to incentivize Chanleas Dai Primary School teachers not only to be on-time to class, but also to improve the quality of their teaching. Each month, the Chanleas Dai principal and PEPY staff conduct in-classroom evaluations, awarding rice and cooking oil to top-performing teachers. The result has been improved quality of classroom instruction.
3. Bike-to-School Scholarship Program – This year we provided bike scholarships to students who enrolled in grade 7, lived outside a certain radius of the junior high school, and had no transportation because their families could not support them. After home visits, the scholarship committee decided upon 33 students, who each received a bike and a bag, and signed a contract agreeing to exhibit good attendance, keep grades high, and stay in school.
4. Art Workshop – During the summer break this year, PEPY’s CLC team ran a month-long creative learning workshop. We focused on creativity by using art, teamwork, and communication. Forty nine students attended this workshop. Students learned about how to mix colors that related to science, the process of drawing pictures, how to write a story, and especially how to transform everyday items and trash (like pencil shavings) into artwork. They worked so well in their groups, they drew pictures and made stories with their pictures and then did role plays of their own stories. Students learned three days per week and we divided them into two shifts—one in the morning and one in the afternoon. All of them did not want this workshop to end!
5. Library in the Primary School – Many activities took place in the library this year, and most of them involved creativity. Students used things like old newspapers and plastic trash to produce items such as paper photo frames, and bags. They checked out books to read at home (averaging 170 students per month), while the number of times students and community members came to the library was 9,271 times per month. Students from every grade (kindergarten to grade 6) had two lessons per week in the library. Lessons included book reports, making posters, quizzes, reading and studying in the learning corner, and alphabet games. We now have 4,035 books in our library and the students enjoy reading more and more books each year.
6. Creative Learning Class (CLC) – We moved the XO program from Chanleas Dai primary school to the junior high school and changed the concept to Creative Learning Class. Students are presented with a curriculum that integrates social studies, science, computer skills, English, and math. The curriculum fosters inquiry-based learning which encourages students to experiment and discover knowledge rather than have the answers given to them. There are currently 210 students enrolled in the CLC program.
7. English in the Junior High School – We moved the English Program because we wanted students to have extra English classes, during their free periods at school. The students learned about their own country and about issues around the world in English. There were about 200 students in this program this year.
8. Field Trip on the Tonle Sap -The best way to make education come alive is through experience, which is why we’re making sure that secondary school students in Chanleas Dai have the opportunity not just to read about Cambodia and its environment, but also to SEE and FEEL it. All of Chanleas Dai’s 9th grade students joined our team for an environmental lesson about the Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and an essential part of the livelihoods of many Cambodians. Often referred to as “the heartbeat of Cambodia,” the lake is the source of nearly half of all the fish captured in Cambodia—an estimated 8% of the country’s population relies directly on the Tonle Sap for their livelihoods.
9. PSDP Team Gets a New Name and Selects a Third Partner School – After meetings with our Primary School Development Program team, we renamed the program to which can be abbreviated to “Saw Aw Saw.” Since this is a program wherein our Cambodian staff engages local communities in taking ownership of and improving their own schools, it hardly made sense to continue using a foreign acronym to identify it. We are approaching the start of our second year with our first two SAS partner schools: Chanleas Dai and Prasat Knar and the SAS team identified a new school which we started working with this fall: Run Primary School. Run Primary School was one of the three schools we worked with last year when we built new buildings through a Dubai Cares partnership. We believe that school buildings cannot improve education without efforts to improve the quality of education going on within them. Through this new SAS partnership we can work with the community of Run as they put this beautiful new building to better use.
10. Grade 9 students Examination and 12th Grade Equivalency Support – PEPY provided grade 9 students with additional classes on Sundays and during school vacation. The students were given extra tutition in math and Khmer to prepare them for their end of year exams. In total 39 students took the class and 36 students passed – a great result for all involved! In addition, PEPY offered teachers, staff, and Chanleas Dai community members the chance to get their high school equivalency diploma. Many people we worked with had gone to school through a portion of high school, many even finishing grade 12 and not passing the final exam. The only way to retake the exam is to take a weekly refresher course for one year which is offered by the District Office of Education and this year PEPY offered to pay part of the fee for all those who wanted to take the course. XXX out of XXX people who took the course passed and we’re hopefully that this will help open doors for them for new opportunities in the future.