Julie Mason, Past District Governor (VTT Cambodia 2016/2017)
As I sit here a wonderful group of Australian educators are on their way to Cambodia to work with teachers from remote village schools in Kampong Speu and Siem Reap. This trip is the second such adventure that is fully funded through a Rotary Foundation Global Grant although previous trips have been funded privately and supported by a District Grant. The idea of this initiative really occurred as a result of people being involved in a World of Difference Humanitarian Tour. That experience enabled us all to see the immediate need for children to have the opportunity to increase literacy skills in both their language and the English language. It was obvious that, with the limited training that teachers have, help and support is needed to increase the development of the skills needed for children particularly in remote village schools to be able to have opportunities for future meaningful work that stop the poverty cycle.
So just who are these generous teachers who are giving up their holidays to go to Cambodia?
Louise Matthews has been a school teacher for many years and is currently Deputy Principal at Sacred Heart primary school in Croydon. Leadership in the areas of literacy and student wellbeing have been particular focuses of her work for the past 15 years along with working with small groups of students with special needs. As a member of the Rotary Club of Chadstone East Malvern for seven years she have been privileged to see the difference Rotary can make both within the local community and overseas and she is passionate about the importance of education and the benefits that it can bring in developing communities.
Matthew Scott is a member of the Rotary Club of Bendigo South and a teacher at St Joseph’s College in Echuca. His teaching experience includes placement in many primary and secondary schools where he has developed learning activities and resources catering for varying student abilities. He participated in the World of Difference Humanitarian Tour and experienced the problems that teachers in the remote village schools endure on a daily basis.
Patimavanh Sourivong is a respected teacher at Baden Powell College where she has had extensive experience teaching children from diverse cultural backgrounds with many also victims of generational trauma. She has a Master’s in Education specialising in Computer Education and a Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second language. She has delivered programs to support children and families across an age range from five to fifteen years. Pat has taught in England for four years, travelled extensively and is fluent in English, Lao and Thai.
Audrey Bugeja is the Team Leader and accepted the invitation to take on this role when the idea of a Vocational Training Team was in its infancy. She, along with the support from others, developed and trialled the program that is now to be delivered to yet another two hundred teachers and leaders. This program is a four stage program with a focus on teaching literacy strategies. The program shows how teaching can be delivered with a focus on differentiated learning for students, group work, the use of effective assessment tools through teacher centred coaching. As well as providing individualised teaching and learning to a range of students at Baden Powell College, Audrey has done voluntary teaching at schools in Nairobi and New Delhi. A stint working with the Salvation Army in their Soup Kitchen in 2014/2015 enabled her to help homeless people.
We are delighted to have Linda Sok join the team this year. Linda currently teaches English and Khmer at the Srey Vibol Kei Secondary College and at the Florida International School in Siem Reap. She completed her Regional Teacher Training at Battambang where she was trained to be a government secondary teacher. She also has a Bachelor Degree Arts, Humanities and Languages form the University of South East Asia in Siem Reap. She is committed to helping people from a disadvantaged background.
So what exactly will this experience look like?
Well having experienced this myself last year, it will be delivered in schools that have very basic facilities namely four walls and a roof, windows that allow for some ventilation in very hot and dusty conditions. No running water, very basic toilet facilities, literally a hole in the ground! Forget about the air conditioning! Our teachers will bring all their own resources as the teachers in the remote schools do not much at all and place great value on any donated pencils, paper and chalk The Team will deliver four half day workshops to approximately one hundred teachers and then go back, debrief and plan for the next day. This regime happens at a remote village school about two hours from Phnom Penh and then a few days later in a similar venue forty five minutes out of Siem Reap.
So far the feedback from the participating teachers notes statistics such as 100% believed the workshops were useful and relevant, 98% believed the content of the program was well presented and engaging and 99% believed that the materials used, demonstrated and received was useful their work.
We do have big plans for the future and hope to further develop a partnership with a teacher training institute in Kampong Speu. The aim is to support the local people training the future teachers and humbly offer some ideas and teaching strategies that are seen as successful in our local schools in Victoria.
The Vocational Training Team of teachers are truly making a difference in the name of Rotary and with funds from The Rotary Foundation.