In years without global pandemics, the new school year starts in Cambodia on November 1st. For PLF that means opening day celebrations and school supply distributions at 6 different schools – it’s one of the most exhausting and most exciting weeks of our year.
This November 1st, though, in the wake of Covid school closures, our opening day celebrations and the new school year have been pushed till mid-January. While we’re not putting together packets of school supplies like usual, we’re still as busy as ever.
This year our November 1st is marked by the steady reopening of programs that were closed due to Covid precautions. When Cambodian education shut down in March, we supported our most vulnerable students via non-contact food drops and by gaining permission to open certain programs with safety standards in place, such as libraries and e-learning study groups for our Grade 12 students.
Schools resumed in shifts for certain grades in the middle of September, with primary school students each receiving 3 days of education per week. Grade 9 and Grade 12, the grades which face national exams, are also back to school for exam prep, with classes limited to less than 25 students. As the schools have reopened, we’ve begun reintroducing even more of our programs. One of the most important being the restart of school meals.
At primary schools, our programs are focused on supporting students who have missed 6 months of education, starting first with Khmer literacy, the main struggle in the communities where we work.
We’re also focusing on our oldest students, getting them back in classes to give them the opportunity to get as far as possible in our curriculum before graduating high school. Grades 10-12 are now back in IT labs at both Chey, Knar as well as the Urban Lab. English also recently resumed at Chey for the higher-level courses and follows this week at Knar. The beginning of November also marks the return of our Siem Reap Scholars Dorm students and our pilot of peer-led e-learning study groups.
We’re all seeking that “new normal” in 2020 and arriving on November 1st, a huge annual marker for us, has the whole PLF team reflecting on this past year. While we’re aren’t celebrating the start of a new school year yet, we are celebrating the return of classes for students who have missed so much for so long. And when our Opening Day finally comes in January, we’ll know our students are ready to take on the new challenges and opportunities that 2021 will bring.
We just barely get an update up on the blog before the world tilts yet again.
Suddenly the government has put all students back to school full time. We got 3 days notice. When we called our principals they didn’t even know about it yet. #becausecambodia
So here we go again. Food budgets and complicated schedules that kept our class size down to a minimum and worked around public school schedules….all of that out the window and we sharpen our pencils, as the next bull runs through our china shop yet again.
Thankfully we’re sitting on a national holiday and have a bit of time to rework everything. That is if the internet stays on while the remains of a Vietnamese typhoon roll through and flood all our construction projects.
Y’all stay tuned.
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