By Jacqui Rawson
For PLF’s students, secondary and English Language schools are often many kilometres from their villages along dirt, red-dust roads. The chance to experience this new transport adventure, exciting in itself, provides a journey towards betterment and growth in many ways.
At the start of each new school year bicycles are awarded to all students at our 4 primary schools who graduated from the 6th grade. These bikes can be the difference between the students continuing their education past Grade 6 (around age 12) or not.
Thanks to Eyes Open, PLF’s Swiss counterparts who provide funds for the bicycles, enrollment in secondary school rose 35% the first year PLF initiated the Bike to School Program and has improved incrementally every year since.
The bikes serve as an enormous incentive for children to finish grade 6 whether they continue to secondary school or not. As further incentive, bicycles are also awarded to the first and second in class for grades 4 and 5.
The atmosphere surrounding the distribution of these bikes is one of intense excitement as the students jump on their new set of wheels and pedal off for the first time. There are broad smiles, some wobbling but mostly successful manoeuvring down the path and out of the school gates.
Thanks Eyes Open for enabling this successful project.
In a country where wearing a helmet as a passenger on a motorbike is not compulsory, bicycle helmets are few and far between. In the countryside older members of the family will take the bike helmets from the children and use them instead to wear driving their motorbikes, further endangering everyone.
PLF is careful about ensuring any money spent is going to a justified cause and is being used as intended. We are now seeing a trend amongst Siem Reap’s urban youth for wearing helmets, and we know they now understand the value of them and will indeed keep and wear them. The hope is that this understanding will spread to the countryside and when it does, we will start providing them there too. Eyes Open has enabled us to start providing helmets with the bicycles for the first time!