Rural primary school curricula in Cambodia are entirely focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the vast majority of these lessons are taught by rote. Through our enrichment programs we are adding creative, analytical, and exploratory elements to the classroom and providing a platform for our students to discover their talents. Offering extracurriculars also means that an education is more attractive and interesting to students who receive little encouragement from home to attend school.
English programs in the primary schools are not part of the public school curriculum, but English is mandatory through all 6 years of secondary school. We have setup extracurricular English classes at the primary schools so that students can get an early start to learning English, a language incredibly important in business and tourism sectors in Cambodia as well as being necessary for higher education. We hire independent teachers for these classes as well as provide English instruction books and resources for each class.
The PLF supports libraries at each of our schools stocked with plenty of Khmer books as well as some Khmer to English books so that students can practice their reading in both languages. PLF buys all of the books and pays a librarian as well as provides games such as chess, legos, and puzzles so that students can engage their minds with not only books but stimulating games. Libraries also provide the youngest students a place to grow their interest in learning.
We launched our first science program at Knar School for students studying in Grade 6 in 2015. Our curriculum mirrors the government curriculum to expand topics in biomes, physical science, and human anatomy and includes a host of interactive experiments. Students are now watching videos of caribou migration and narwhal feeding habits, discussing how the price of durian is influenced by the rare fruit bat that pollenates its flowers, building balloon rockets and sound wave machines, and creating and presenting their own physical science posters to the class, and the way the world works is unfolding in front of their eyes.
We are currently offering Ukulele classes for students at Tchey school. Our students are learning Khmer traditional and western songs, exploring their talents and finding their musical groove. This program brings another important creative element into our students’ education and allows them to share their music with the community by performing at PLF events.
Chess club has been enthusiastically taken up by students of all ages. They eagerly play during free hours, challenging their friends and practicing at every opportunity. Playing and learning chess offers our a chance to improve their memory, reasoning, creative and logical thinking, as well as decision making. In addition to hosting chess club as an extracurricular class, we also put on tournaments with clubs from other schools in the area to hold a bit of friendly competition.