The PLF sponsors English classes for primary school students at Tchey and Knar Primary Schools in between morning and afternoon sessions. Within the past year, the PLF has expanded their classes to include a night class at Knar Primary School for secondary school students, as well as other young adults from the community who want to improve their English. Volunteers make the one hour journey each way to teach from 5:30-7:30 every night.
Knar Primary School is located about an hour outside of Siem Reap Proper, a few kilometers from Banteay Srei Temple. Because of a lack of electriciation at the school, all lights in the classroom are run on car batteries. The PLF gives money each month to pay for the gasoline to keep the batteries running. Without these lights, it would impossible to have class.
Light becomes an issue in another aspect of this class—transportation. Students come from all over the area by bike or by foot to take English class. After the sun goes down in the countryside, visibility is extremely low on the road, most of the light coming from motorbikes and cars speeding through. The PLF has recently given each student a flashlight so that they can find their way home more easily, and the commute will be infinitely safer. Because bike lights often get stolen or break, flashlights have become the most practical way to get the students to and from class safely.
Despite some minor setbacks, students have continued to show up at class at 5:30 every day for the past year. The class was started when one ambitious student requested extra English classes from Lori Carlson, nervous that she wasn’t going to pass the 12th grade exam. She found a group of students of various ages in the area that would also benefit from the class, and presented the list to Lori. Shortly after this, the night class began.
At the beginning of the school year, the night class at Knar began with 25 dedicated students of all levels and ages. Most students are between 18 and 20 years old, however there are more than a few exceptions. Huoy Hun for example, is 25 years old and is a teacher at Knar School. So Sil is 13 years old, and attends secondary school nearby. Other students include Srey Nech and Chenda, both are English teachers at Knar Primary School, and are interested in perfecting their English skills with native speakers. There is not only a wide age range in class, but also a wide range in ability. Some students can have full conversations, while others are at a more beginner level. Addressing the needs of all students at once has become a difficult task for the volunteers.
For the past several weeks, two volunteers from Learning Enterprises, Maggie Klefstad and Daniel Smith, have been traveling to Knar Monday through Friday to teach the class. The dedication of the students and their willingness to learn makes the hour commute more than worth it. Each student has different goals they would like to obtain from the English class—some would like pass the graduation exam, while others are perfecting their conversation and grammar skills. Daniel and Maggie’s purpose is to help each student achieve their own goal.
The class continues after public school lets out for the summer, and Daniel and Maggie will be teaching there for another four weeks. When there are no volunteers available to be sent out to the class, the class is taught by Sovanny, an English teacher at Knar Primary School.