Hope’s Education Plan
Since starting in 2005 the Hope Foundation has been focussed on providing underprivileged children with a safe, caring environment in which to live. The Foundation also recognised that, apart from the basic necessities of life, the key to a successful future for Cambodia’s children is a sound education.
In Cambodia the state school day is split into two shifts, half of the children go to school in the morning and half go in the afternoon. When the Hope Centre operated as a residential care facility our children went to school in the afternoon, so we had our own teachers, at the Centre, to provide our children with extra classes in the mornings. Hope then had the capacity to offer children from the local community extra classes in the afternoon.
When HOPE moved to be a community based organisation it was important that our current facilities of classrooms, equipment and teachers at the Centre was not going to go to waste. HOPE sought meetings with local communes and their leaders and with the government’s education department to plan to continue using Hope’s school. The communities, parents and children eagerly accepted this offer and our Community Education Program was born.
Hope’s Education classes run from 2pm until 6 pm Monday to Friday with 75 children attending, approximately half of the students are females. The students are taught basic English and also learn to use Hope’s IT equipment. The IT classroom has 35 computers generously donated to Hope by Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore. State of the art cameras, also donated by Standard Chartered Bank, allow us to have Skype meetings with multiple connections internationally.
These children from poorer families would never afford private after school lessons in either of these two very important subjects that will give them an advantage, both in their education and in their employment prospects, as they grow older.
It is a real pleasure to see these children arriving for school with huge smiles on their faces, and those parents who drop their children off are similarly happy to see their children being educated. The older children are able to have a basic conversation in English.
PRE –SCHOOL EDUCATION
At the beginning of 2015 we also started our first early child care and education class. (Pre-school)
Toddlers between the ages of 3 to 5 years applied. Well their parents did.
We accepted 15 toddlers out of 100 that applied. Family assessments helped us to choose those in most need. There are over 250 children all under 4 years waiting within our local communities. On our first day 17 toddlers turned up (not the planned or agreed 15) so we started day one with 17 and we still have 17 coming to our morning class, Monday to Friday 7 am to 10.30 am.
The children start the day by raising the Cambodian flag and singing their national anthem. Some warm up exercises and a song or two follow to get them focussed . Then is it off to a hearty breakfast, for some of the children this will be the best or only real meal for the day.
Over the last 6 months HOPE have watched the personal development of the17 toddlers and relationships between toddlers and their teachers. Parents and Guardians are all very positive and often tell us about the good changes that they see happening as their child grows and becomes more confident.
HOPE is soon to open its second class taking our numbers to 34. We had such good fortune with the first 17 that we decided to take another 17.
Together with formal education our experience has been that we also need to focus on physical education as well as teamwork and the ideal way to do this is to enter football teams in the local football competition.
The competition is organised by a group called SALT Academy which is a Sport and Leadership Training organisation which has around 2000 children involved in football competitions in three Provinces of Cambodia. SALT organises the fields and the all important ‘draw’ of which teams play and supplies referees and goals for the fields.
Hope has participated in this competition for over 5 years and our kids have always enjoyed it. Now we are organising teams of local community kids, coaching and equipping them and transporting them to their fixtures at various fields around Battambang.
A supporter of Hope, Watts Energy , generously donated football uniforms for our teams this year and we hope that this will lead to some success on the field. We will keep you posted.