In 2012 a third of Grade 2 students in Cambodia could not read a single word (USAID). The work of teachers is fundamental to progress in Cambodia. Primary schools in Cambodia now boast a 98% net enrolment rate, and substantially increased literacy rates. As a way to mark this progress, every year SeeBeyondBorders celebrates the achievement of teachers, throughout the four districts in which it works.
Through a ceremony we call Krou Laor, which means ‘good teacher’, SeeBeyondBorders acknowledges the importance of teachers as agents of change. SeeBeyondBorders provides these teachers with support and training, but their commitment to self-development so that they can provide their students with a quality education is of their own doing. On the 31st of October and 1st of November, SeeBeyondBorders hosted two awards ceremonies to commemorate and celebrate the achievements of teachers in the Puok and Angor Thom districts.
The awards are broken down into three categories: bronze, silver and gold. In 2016, 63% of teachers or mentors were awarded bronze or above, highlighting the excellent quality of teachers in the schools in which SeeBeyondBorders works. A teacher who achieves gold must have high student test results, a high level of commitment to professional development, and a low level of student absence throughout the year .
On the first day, 17 teachers and mentors from the Puok district were welcomed to collect their awards. Choeung Chet won a Krou Laor award in Puok district. He recognises the pressures facing Cambodian families with little income, and tries to solve this problem by talking to the parents within the community and stressing the importance of education. The issue, he says, is that people ‘live from hand to mouth’, meaning they are unable to make long-term plans. He wants to help people to understand that education teaches ‘knowledge and skills which help the community in the long-term.’
A second ceremony was held in Angkor Thom district for 63 teachers and mentors. Sak Uddom achieved gold for his progress as a teacher, in spite of the numerous challenges contributing to high absenteeism in his school, and little access to resources to assist his teaching. According to surveys, 80% of children who have dropped out of primary school have said that they did so “to contribute to the household income”, because they “must help with household chores”, because they “don’t want to study” or because they “did not do well in school” (Mekong Economic Research Network). The importance of quality teachers is essential in changing mindsets within the community and encouraging children to attend school regularly.
Through our ‘Teach the Teacher’ program, SeeBeyondBorders has trained 523 teachers, and helped some 27,000 students. By celebrating teaching progress, we are motivating teachers, families and communities to strive for a brighter future for Cambodian children.