Sunday, June 29, 2014

Emmanuel Primary School

We worked at 3 different primary schools in Phnom Penh this time, 2 government schools and 1 run by an NGO.  Both government-run schools are rather chaotic.  The students attend schools for 3 hours each day.  There are frequent breaks - 5 in one afternoon.  Many students are reluctant to return to the classroom when the break is over.  Some teachers are not there in the classroom when the classes are in session.  Some students are so poor they do not have pencils at home.  Others seem to have unlimited funds for snacks, and many motorcycles come to pick them up after school.  Teachers are paid a little more than US$100 per month, barely enough for one person to survive, and certainly not enough to feed a family.  Hence some schools charge additional fees. Many teachers have other jobs on the side.  Hence teaching at the school does not get their full attention.  Some students do not come to class because they cannot pay the additional fees.  Others stay away because they cannot sit still in class, or otherwise old enough to work. 

Emmanuel Community Primary School is set up to take care of children in poverty, who do not, or cannot attend government schools. The school charges no fees.   Here the students are much more disciplined.  The teachers seem to be quite young, and care about the children more.  When we teach the children using the tabletPCs, some of the teachers sit at the back, listening attentively. Boys and girls work together enthusiastically.  

The school has a computer room, with a number of old computers bought with donations.  Many of them have broken down.  We cleaned and fixed some of them, and donated 3 more laptops.  We set up a proper network, and installed a library of e-books and other learning resources.  The school director, a pastor, seemed quite happy about it all.  They have already a plan to build a high school next door. 

We have actually known the school for several years, when it was under different management and it went through a period of uncertainty.  The school looks quite promising now and we are planning to come back. 

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