Literacy Camp Underway
PEPY’s second annual literacy camp has begun!
This week 45 teachers from around Chanleas Dai, a dozen PEPY staff, and 2 teacher trainers from the Provincial Teacher Training College are beginning their first week of Literacy Camp. Like last year, the camp is made up of two parts: a week and a half of “training camp” for teachers in literacy teaching methods and active learning techniques, and a week-long reading camp for students, where teachers can put these ideas into practice in small leveled classrooms. Last year’s literacy camp was an incredible experience, perhaps one of my favorite PEPY moments on record. This year, I see perhaps even more promise. Over the course of the past year, PEPY has offered over 35 days of training to area educators, resulting in significantly more engaged and motivated teachers. This not only makes a difference in their classrooms, but also in how they approach further training. Last year our trainers spent the first day of the training camp slowly pressing teachers to share their ideas. This year our first day was a lively, energetic workshop, full of laughter and uninhibited discussion. There are few quantitative statistics to show these kinds of changes. I wish we had a bravery index, a self-confidence scale, or a quality measure of participation. If it exists out there, the difference between this and last year would be off the charts.
We are seeing promise for the student’s part of the camp as well. Last year’s camp enrolled just under 200 students, though ended the week with over 300 campers. This year, we already have over 400 students in grades 3-6 signed up, and might have to even use a neighboring school in order to accommodate everyone.
While the focus of our training and camp this year is still on literacy pedagogy (reading and writing activities, how to bring books into the classroom and use them successfully, using reading to enhance critical thinking, etc.), the second component of training focuses on the concept of Child Friendly Schools and classrooms. CFS is a concept that is now part of official Ministry of Education policy, and meant to be a part of all primary and secondary schools in the country. Unfortunately, as is often the case in Cambodia, government policies do not disseminate quickly to rural and remote schools. When we did interviews with 8 principals in the area, only half of them claimed they understood the idea of Child Friendly School policies, and less than 25% said that these policies were implemented in their classrooms.
To learn more about Child Friendly School policies and concepts, check out this UNICEF-sponsored video explaining the components of the program, or see the MoEYS website’s brochure on CFS in Cambodia.