By Jacqui Rawson
There is no squeal of delight as the school year comes to an end here in Cambodia. Instead, of the 400 students at Knar school, about 120 arrived well ahead of start time on the first day of summer school and they keep turning up every day as summer progresses.
A summer school day starts with a couple of hour’s free-play time and includes things like; elastics, ball games, and the chance to hangout in the library reading, playing board games or making use of something scientific like “snap circuits”. What is really amazing about these kids is their ability to be self led, as soon as the doors open, they’re rushing in to do their favorite activity.
And even with the plethora of exciting, fun options to choose from, a good number of the students of varying ages chose instead to go into a classroom and practice their lessons. The students take turns to play teacher, using a stick to point to a character in Khmer and the rest of the class chants along with each point. Very impressive stuff in a modern age where normally, given any opportunity for the turn of a teachers back, children will be straight onto some form of technological gadgetry.
The rest of the summer school day includes two hours of teacher led classes that include arts and crafts, science and a continuance of English classes held throughout the year. There’s “bridge building” where the building blocks are ice-block sticks and coloured tongue depressors. Then there’s “owl pellets” a science project where the kids dissect the bones from a regurgitated barn owl pellet. Binoculars a common enough tool to all of us but given to these rural children for the first time they become a source of amazement and disbelieve. Making Play Doh from flour & water and then turning into a myriad of forms is just one fun part of what comes out of their Arts & Crafts sessions.
Like support for PLF, our volunteers come from all over the world and this summer we are excited to have a board member from the Eyes Open organization coming to join us from Switzerland. Eyes Open provide breakfast and afternoon snacks all year round and in addition provide all the summer school snacks that PLF distribute twice a day over the summer.
Other volunteers this summer come from Hawaii, Australia and America and PLF values their efforts in putting together an educational and fun time for the students that probably don’t want summer school to end.