Monday, 25 March 2013

NFO Rural Schools in Takeo Province

Empowering rural Cambodian children through education and a positive learning environment is the objective for a project that CamKids is helping to fund. Working closely with New Futures Organisation (NFO), a local charity helping to construct and manage schools in the rural villages surrounding Takeo Province, CamKids is helping to provide education where access is limited by paying the salaries of 12 teachers and supplies for the 6 rural schools currently in the programme. It is hoped NFO will build three more schools in 2013, taking the number of children in education from 1100 up to 1500.
An overwhelmingly poor agricultural region, villages in Takeo are often scattered among rice fields and down difficult to access dirt tracks, especially during the rainy season. While education is free in Cambodia, the costs associated with sending a child to regular school is often out of reach for these families. Distance can pose a problem and it is also not uncommon for parents to need their childrens help in the fields which prevents attendance. With no close education facilities available at all, Ben Maur was identified on a 'needs basis' profile conducted by Cambodian Social Services as a location in desperate need of a rural school. 
Constructed in August 2011, the school has quickly grown to accommodate around 80-90 children aged between 4 and 12. The afternoon English classes are run at split times and are taught by two dedicated local Khymer teachers who are funded by CamKids. Lead by the senior teacher 'Son Yang' who has been at Ben Maur since its inception, the students vocabulary and pronunciation skills are increasing rapidly and are testament to the teachers motivation and passion to see them succeed. In addition to learning English, the students are also taught how to behave in a schooling environment, paving the way for them to attend state-run high schools once they come of age.
The teachers also provide a safe environment for students to learn manners, social skills and how to follow rules. All of which are necessary attributes for those who may want a future that extends outside of working in the fields. The success of Ben Maur can also be contributed to the international volunteer programme run by NFO which is designed to provide assistance to the teachers. The children benefit hugely from interaction with friendly and engaging fluent English speakers. In addition to being generous with their time, volunteers also regularly donate much needed teaching supplies to supplement funding from NFO and CamKids. 
Volunteer, Rebecca Kelly (24) from Ireland, spent three weeks at Ben Maur in February 2013 and was pleased to see the positive environment that has been created for the students:

"Helping out at Ben Maur in both a teaching and support capacity has given me a unique insight into real Cambodia," she says. "It's really great to see teachers being given the tools they need to educate the younger generation who are so eager to learn. Having volunteers present in the classroom also helps to open up the eyes of the students to a world outside their village. Teaching at Ben Maur has been a real privilege and it is easy to see the impact the school and its teachers are having in helping to shape their futures."

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