In April, a two day Maths Camp came to the Bavel district in Cambodia, facilitated and supported by SeeBeyondBorders’ staff.
As part of SeeBeyondBorders’ Getting to School focus area, the Maths Camp (also known as our Supplementary Lessons Program), is part of a suite of programs designed to address the root causes of low attendance at school. Children with a history of poor attendance are far more likely to fall behind, become disengaged and drop out of school altogether, creating a vicious circle which is hard to break. By providing interactive, intensive and engaging additional lessons for those who are at risk of dropping out, SeeBeyondBorders aims to support these children and help them to stay in school for longer.
Our ﬁrst Supplementary Lessons started back in 2015 taking the form of a two day Maths Camp, where 29 students from grades 2 and 3 participated in interactive activities to improve understanding of maths concepts. End of year results showed that in grade 2, 11 out of the 14 students who attended these supplementary lessons passed the test with an average score of 72%. In grade 3, 14 out of the 15 students who attended passed the test with an average score of 79% – an above average score for their year group.
Due to the success, we were delighted to be able to bring the Supplementary Lessons Program to Bavel this year. In April 2016, 28 students were selected with the help of the school community as those most at risk of dropping out and who would benefit from additional support. In addition, 4 representative teachers from 3 different schools in the Bavel district attended. The two day Maths Camp included various interactive activities taking the form of group, pair and individual work, all using concrete materials to support learning.
Various elements are vital to ensure the success of these supplementary lessons. Due to the small class sizes students benefit from more one-on-one teacher time and are able to learn with students of a similar level. Class sizes in Cambodian rural schools can often reach over 40 students to one teacher, which can lead to a broadening attainment gap between those students who have difficulty understanding or keeping up with lessons and those who easily grasp the concepts. Providing opportunities for students to learn in small groups, as well as with others at a similar level, increases confidence and engagement, and lessons are far more interactive as a result.
“We often see students who are not engaged normally in class become more active in these lessons. They are also far more likely to work together.” Sophen, SeeBeyondBorders Education Program Coordinator commented.
By the end of the Maths Camp the students were able to complete standard maths problems and algorithms appropriate for their grade. All attending students completed a pre and post-test which allowed the teachers and SeeBeyondBorders facilitators to gage the success of the lessons. In grade 2, the pre-test showed a 0% pass rate, compared to an 85% pass rate in post test results. In grade 3, 33% of students passed the pre-test, increasing to 69% in the post test result.
Increasing attainment and attendance of students is an important focus of this program. But a secondary, and equally important, goal is to provide teachers with practical understanding of how to both identify individual student needs and use appropriate strategies to support them. Various techniques are used during these lessons providing teachers attending a ‘live workshop’ to witness these strategies in action.
Khen Pharin is a grade 2 teacher within the Bavel district. Three of her students were selected and attended the maths camp, where she was also in attendance. She commented on how much she had learnt about various strategies, classroom management, using resources and how to identify specific student needs.
“Math Camp is really fun and helps slower learners to catch up on their math lessons. I also learnt a lot from math camp because it felt like a brilliant demonstration workshop that was taught by professional and skillful teachers. It gave me a good opportunity to observe and see clearly how SeeBeyondBorders staff apply all different concepts and activities”. Khen Pharin commented after the two day Maths Camp.
Check out our video below of the recent maths camp in action, and some of the techniques used.