Education Today article
on Gilly Clifford (Cambodia), 02/Nov/2012 14:13, 34 days ago
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VSO recently asked me to write an article about my placement in Cambodia for the magazine Education Today that they frequently contribute to.  Here it is:800x600Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-USX-NONEX-NONE/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-bidi-font-family:DaunPenh;}Teacher Gilly Clifford, 32, from London, reflects on her two year VSO placement in Cambodia:“As I approach the last month of my two year VSO placement working as a teaching and learning adviser in the small town of Kratie in North-East Cambodia, I have mixed feelings about leaving. On the one hand I’m excited about the future and ready to use what I’ve learnt from my time in Cambodiafor new challenges; but I know I will also miss the town and the people I have come to love.Cambodia is still considered a post-conflict country long after the civil war ended in the 1990s. The war destroyed Cambodia’s education system and thousands of people, including 75% of teachers, 96% of university students and 67% of all primary and secondary school pupils, lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979 (VSO 2008).This has had consequences for rebuilding the education system, the economy and society. Culturally, people are less inclined to question things or deviate from the norm. The education system relies on rote learning in which the teacher talks and the children listen but they don’t necessarily fully understand the subject matter. There are high drop-out and repetition rates, particularly in grade one (Rao, Pearson, Constas and Pearson 2007). In 2009, the percentage of female children repeating grades across primary school was 10% and 12% for male children (UNESCO Institute for Statistics).I am based at the Provincial Office of Education in Kratie town and I travel across two districts in the province to help implement the Ministry of Education’s Child Friendly School Policy. Although this policy was introduced in 2002, there is little evidence in schools of the interactive approach it recommends. Over the last two years, I have focused on five target schools, working with the grade 1-3 teachers and school directors to help them implement this method of teaching through workshops, lesson observations and discussions.My biggest success has been to develop a DVD project in which groups of teachers watch Ministry of Education produced films on literacy or maths and we discuss different learning methods. This helps the teachers to reflect on their own teaching as well as see what works so they can make improvements. After five months of doing the project, I began peer observations of each teacher and encouraged them to put these ideas into practice. The difference was striking; teachers became more confident, more responsive to the children’s individual needs and willing to try out group activities. Since then they use real objects to introduce new topics, visual aids like puppets and try out different classroom layouts, making the lessons more fun and encouraging discussions and critical thinking.Working in Cambodia has not been without its challenges. I have definitely gained skills in negotiating, improvising and flexibility to navigate the complicated, hierarchical and bureaucratic educational system. Despite this, it is very motivational when I see teachers use my suggestions and pass these ideas on to others. I have loved my five minute commute to work cycling alongside the mighty Mekong River, buying fresh vegetables and fruit from the market and bumping into people I know every day. I can now speak a new language and ride a motorbike, two things I never thought I would be able to do. I would definitely recommend the experience to others; volunteers develop so much both professionally and personally and most importantly, are able to share their skills too.”Rao, N., Pearson, E., Constas, M.A.,& Pearson, V. (2007). Evaluation of community preschool and home based early childhood programs in Cambodia. UNICEF: Cambodia.UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) (2012) UIS Statistics in Brief– Education Profile: Cambodia 2010. Online. Available at[Accessed 4 August 2012]VSO (2008) Teaching Matters. A policy report on the motivation and moral of teachers in Cambodia.And here is a link to the actualonline article(it takes a minute to load) and I'm on page 7.Sponsor Us