People throughout the world today will celebrate International Women’s Day, a day to highlight the huge accomplishments women have made in society, but also to bring to the forefront some of the pertinent issues women still face.
Women and girls are an essential part of building healthy, educated and sustainable communities. But they are far too often over-looked. Globally, around 57 million children are not attending school, and girls make up 31 million of this number. Cambodia is making huge strides to ensure that girls and boys have an equal opportunity to access primary education, with UNICEF data suggesting that the net enrolment ratio for boys and girls is now 95%. Despite the improvements in recent years in access to education, the quality of education and dropout rates for both boys and girls is still an issue. Drop out rate data from three districts in which SeeBeyondBorders works suggests that the gender divide is far more complex than the global argument suggests, with data suggesting that girls have in fact a lower absentee rate. An average taken from three of the four districts that SeeBeyondBorders works in indicates that girls’ absenteeism over a four month period from November 2015 to February 2016 was 5.9% compared to 7.8% of boys. This compares to an average of 9% across the country, suggesting the work that SeeBeyondBorders does to decrease both boys and girls rates of absenteeism is better than the country average.
The following individual stories of achievement celebrate some of the many women who work with SeeBeyondBorders to increase access to quality education for boys and girls, ensure schools are a safe and fun place for all, increase community involvement in school development initiatives and reduce absenteeism. All of these women work tirelessly to improve education in Cambodia, and to provide the very best for the next generation.
Vasna engaging students
Ms. Vasna has been part of the SeeBeyondBorders teaching program for three years in Bavel. Before joining the SeeBeyondBorders’ program, she found it really hard to engage students during classroom sessions. “I didn’t know how to start a lesson and could not identify specific concepts or use concrete materials in lessons,” she told us. After participating in five training courses, being provided with materials from SeeBeyondBorders as well as receiving regular support visits from her mentor, she is now more confident in managing her classroom. “I am more confident in teaching mathematics now because I can breakdown concepts, use concrete materials to introduce abstract concepts, and I find that it has really helped my students learn easier.”
Champa supporting sports lessons in Bavel
Mrs. Khut Champa is an assistant coach at Khum Bavel Primary School in Bavel district. As part of our aim to increase student attendance and provide greater opportunities for parent involvement in school activities, Champa supports our sports program helping teachers with lesson planning and facilitation. Champa believes she has developed a great deal in the last year in sports coordination skills, sports capacity and cooperation with both teachers and students. “I enjoy the sport program more this year than last year because now I understand a lot about sport concepts and activities that can make me feel confident to support sport lessons with teachers. Teachers welcome me and we work well together,” said Champa.
Savein supporting school development
In February 2016, SeeBeyondBorders conducted a School Development Planning workshop in Bavel. These workshops help guide the school management team, teachers, and the community to create a vision for what the future of their school and their children’s education could be. From their feedback, around 95% of parents said that this was the first time that they had been involved with the school to give their opinions about how they would like the school to develop. Savein is a mother of four children and has been involved in the School Development Team for 2 years. “This is the first time that I have been involved in making a school vision and school development plan, even though I have been a member of the school support committee for quite a long time. This workshop has given parents an opportunity to talk and share their ideas about their dreams for the school. I believe that everyone will help to implement this plan in order to make our school develop” said Savein.
Samoeuy planning Improved classes
Ms. Samoeuy teaches a combination grade 1&2 class the Puok district. Like many other teachers in the district, she teaches and does farming work outside school hours. She has found in the past that she does not have enough time for planning lessons. As a result of SeeBeyondBorders’ Teach the Teacher program she has been provided with math workshops, resource books, materials as well as regular mentoring sessions. Samoeuy now feels she can teach with more confidence and can provide clear concepts of the lesson to her students. She said, “I am happy to collaborate with SeeBeyondBorders because I have gained a lot of knowledge, resources and assistance from my mentor to teach with concrete materials and lesson planning”. The mentoring system is very useful to her because her mentor supports her in the classroom, providing constructive feedback and specific teaching strategies. “I would like to thank SeeBeyondBorders for providing me a lot of knowledge and strategies to teach,” she remarked.
Sayoeurn receiving recognition
Sayoeurn has been a mentor for three years in the Angkor Thom district and was among 14 mentors who received an award at the Krou Laor Awards last year. The Krou Laor awards operates in conjunction with SeeBeyondBorders Teach the Teacher Core Program, to recognise outstanding progression and motivate teachers to continue to strive for improved teaching skills. Sayoeurn received a bronze award at the ceremony in October last year, demonstrating how far her teaching and mentoring skills have come in two years of work with SeeBeyondBorders.
Kimlen supporting communities with SeeBeyondBorders
Kimlen has been a Community Liaison Coordinator for SeeBeyondBorders since February 2015. She is responsible for supporting community members, families and parents become more involved in school activities and engage in making decisions about the future of their school. She supports families, and works with both the wider community and school, to increase enrolment and participation, and decrease absenteeism. Her work, and the work of all our SeeBeyondBorders team, is vital to ensuring there is a direct and lasting link between SeeBeyondBorders and the community, to ensure long-lasting ownership of school activities and involvement in their child’s education. Kimlen spoke recently about why she works for SeeBeyondBorders; “I want to help the education system and I like the way that SeeBeyondBorders values the community’s involvement, and engages them to support and develop the school and community.”
These stories are just a few examples of the contribution women who work with SeeBeyondBorders are making- as Schools Principals, teachers, mentors, assistant coaches, and as mothers and members of the community. These women are all dedicated to improving the standards of teaching and creating a fun and safe environment in their own schools, to provide more children with the opportunity of a quality education. Without the equal contribution of these women, the improvements in educational outcomes that SeeBeyondBorders achieves would not be possible.