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Northpoint Students Bring New Opportunities to Cambodian Orphanage

June 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy contributes long term change to Cambodian orphanage. Plans to return with more support in 2012!
Bryce Schuler (NELA student) in front of the boy’s bath house built by NELA students during their visit last school 
The Rotary Interact club at Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy created a new project this year- the Cambodian Orphanage Sewing Training (COST) Program. The idea came from high school students; Bryce Schuler and Brenna Sullivan, who traveled to Cambodia with NELA in May, 2010. As part of that trip they spent 5 days working in an orphanage in Battambang, Cambodia. The U.S. students developed a close connection with the children in the orphanage, and wanted to continue their relationship when they returned to this country. Discussions revealed that the children needed a training program so that when they left the orphanage they would have skills that could be immediately able to provide them living wages. The suggestion was that girls could learn sewing, and boy could learn motorcycle repair, both skills that have excellent job opportunities in Cambodia.
Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy (NELA) is a non-profit, independent, charter, high school in Prescott. The school serves grades 9 through 12 and offers rigorous, college-prep academics as well as exciting travel and extra-curricular opportunities. After students traveled to Cambodia, the Rotary Interact club immediately took up the cause and worked all year to raise funds to start the COST program. They had bake sales and craft booths at events in Prescott, with their funds dedicated to the COST Program. In addition, they were able to get a local woman’s book group from Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, who were inspired after reading the book Half The Sky, to agree to provide matching funds for the COST Program. Student Marco Renzi expanded the Rotary Interact club to become a Do Something Club, which allowed him to write a grant to support the COST Program. While the grant decision is still pending, the students were able to send $750 to Cambodia in May, 2011. This allowed the purchase of 4 sewing machines (since there is no electricity in the orphanage, these have to be treadle machines!), and teachers salary for 4 months.
This program will continue this next year. Rotary Interact/Do Something students will pursue funding from local quilting and sewing groups who might be interested in supporting sewing classes in Cambodia. There is also a plan to approach local automobile/motorcycle shops to start funding for the boys classes. Students from Northpoint aren’t done! There is discussion about returning to Cambodia in January, 2012, to explore the culture further, and return to the orphanage to keep our connection and work going.
If you would like to support this project please contact the school. The group also welcomes community members who can share their experiences in Cambodia. Please contact the school atinfo@northpointacademy.org with ideas!
Pannha En (right) with orphanage children with the newly purchased sewing machines
Girls from the orphanage starting to put the sewing machines together

 Prescott News

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Categories: Education, Local News

UP students raise $20,000 for education in Cambodia

June 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo courtesy of Kurt Berning


Kenny King with Cambodian student

Kenny King and Kurt Berning, students at the University of Portland, have raised more $20,000 for education in Cambodia. King and Berning are the founders of Global Alliance for Developing Education, a non-profit that is dedicated to building education in developing countries. The money was raised at a gourmet meal and auction held at the North Portland school. 

King and Berning also took first place in the non-profit category at the $100K Challenge, a business plan competition hosted by the University’s Entrepreneur Scholar program and Pamplin School of Business. 


The organization’s strategies include expanding an existing microfinance program, building a secondary school, training teachers and providing scholarships for high school students to attend college. 


The two recently traveled to Cambodia.  


“The trip has inspired me to work tirelessly to improve the quality of schools in Cambodia and offer opportunities to the deserving students,” said Berning. “The need in these schools is dire, and even a relatively small amount of money in the U.S. can make a dramatic impact on the life of a Cambodian student.”





Categories: Education, Local News

Transforming the education system

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Cambodia’s schools need help – but sending teachers isn’t the only answer. VSO is working to effect real, sustainable change at every level
In the UK, everyone has to stay at school until they are at least 16, and in many developed countries education continues for years after that. But in Cambodia nearly 15% of children drop out of school before they are 11. They never even finish primary school.
Children listen attentively in a Cambodian classroom but many drop out because they live in abject poverty or must work on the land.
As there are complex reasons for this, VSO is taking a look at the root causes of the failure of Cambodia’s education system. The organisation wants to help transform the system, rather than simply sending teachers to fill the gaps.
The most fundamental step is to effect policy change. Angus MacNeil MP went to Cambodia in 2008 with the Parliamentary Volunteering Scheme. His task was to raise the profile of VSO’s Valuing Teachers report. This report considers the role of teachers in society: recruitment and training, pay, status, education management, lack of resources, and the challenges posed by the behaviour of some students.
“Teachers’ wages are far too low and it’s taking focus from the classroom,” MacNeil says. He was able to discuss the matter with the education minister. Wages are going up, albeit slowly, and this should lessen the need for some teachers to take second jobs in order to make ends meet. “The minister was sympathetic,” he continues. “Cambodia is a poor country but they are making a lot of progress.”
According to Chea Vantha, senior programme manager for education at VSO Cambodia, there is a range of problems that need addressing. “First, there needs to be access to education, then the quality of that education needs to be improved.” Professional development for education staff at all levels – teachers, headteachers, managers, civil servants – also needs to be addressed.
Teacher training has been inadequate, says Vantha. “Teachers don’t really understand student-centred teaching, so their lessons aren’t interesting. They aren’t paying attention to slow learners or disadvantaged children. There’s a lack of understanding how to support children.”
VSO volunteer Dr Charlene Bredder is originally from the US and has extensive experience as a teacher and education lecturer. Based at Kampot, a provincial town near Cambodia’s south coast, she is education adviser at the Provisional Teacher Training Centre, supporting the quality and effectiveness of classroom teaching, school planning, and education policy.
“I am looking at the curriculum and introducing the idea of interactivity,” she says. “For instance, I made Khmer alphabet cards that the teacher would hold while the children do connected activities. With F for Frog, the children would hop like frogs!”
There are many financial constraints on educational development, with a big divide between urban and rural areas where 80% of the population lives. In rural areas there may be next to no resources: teachers might have classes of 60-70 children and be 20km away from a photocopier, with a complete lack of scissors, glue, pens, pencils – all the things that make school interesting for children. Bredder is formulating a resource pack for new teachers that will include these things.
This work is designed to carry on after she has left: “I love being here because my colleagues are very willing and enthusiastic about new ideas. They know what will work here, and I have new ideas. That’s a very special combination.”
VSO is also encouraging national volunteers to work within schools in their own communities. “This is not just about involving parents,” says Vantha. “It’s also, for instance, establishing student councils. That way, even if projects end, the work will continue.”

Committed to achieving education for all

The UN’s second millennium development goal set in 2000 is to “achieve universal primary education” by 2015. This means all children should complete their primary education. Most children in Cambodia enrol in primary education, but in 2008-2009 only 85.5% successfully finished it.
Cambodia is now enjoying peace after more than 30 years of conflict and instability, but the genocide of the 1970s still has an enduring impact throughout the country. In the years up to 1979, an estimated 75% of teachers were killed by the Khmer Rouge and there are still far too few qualified professionals. Parents may not back their children’s education if they have not received schooling themselves.
VSO has worked in Cambodia since 1991, when programmes were initiated at the request of the government. VSO’s education work differs from that of other NGOs as volunteers provide professional expertise to support the government, teacher-training bodies and individual teachers. The aim is to spread this expertise so that eventually international volunteers will no longer be needed. VSO remains committed to Cambodia, even though other aid agencies no longer work there. It works with the government to achieve its Education for All programme. This includes the Valuing Teachers research, which among other things has improved teachers’ pay.
“The VSO approach is a great example of the effectiveness of people working at different levels. This holistic approach amplifies the impact made by each volunteer, ensuring our donors’ money goes further in the fight against poverty,” says Jackie Bee, VSO UK’s head of marketing & engagement.
The Guardian
Categories: Education, Local News

Eliot School Hosts Cambodian Speaker

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment
Students will participate in read-a-thon this summer to raise money to build a library in southeast Asia. 
Director of the Cambodia office of Room to Read Kann Kall poses with
members of Allison Dick’s 3rd grade class. From Left: Lila North, Jenna
Sandler, Kurt Brinkhaus and Brian Poolman.
Leaders of Room to Read after Kann Kall spoke to students at the John
Eliot School on Friday. From left, with what office they’re based out of
in parenthesis: Barb Heffner (Boston), Yashvinee Narechania (San
Francisco), Wendy McAllister (Boston), Kall and Wendi Huestis (New
York).
 For the second time in three years, the John Eliot School will be getting involved with Room to Read an organization that strives to improve literacy and gender equality in education in developing countries—through a read-a-thon.

Through her friendship with Room to Read’s Boston Chapter leader
Wendy McAllister, Principal Suzanne Wilcox invited a speaker from the
organization, Kall Kann, director of Room to Read’s Cambodia office, to
speak with Eliot School students on Friday, May 13.

Arriving to the event with members from Room to Read’s New York and
San Francisco offices, Kall took center stage a little after 9:00
a.m. after Wilcox and a small group of students led a school-wide
sing-a-long for the assembly.

Kall talked a lot about his life as teenager, telling the children he
had lost his entire family when he was 12 after a new government regime
took over. An estimated 2 million people were executed or died from
starvation, Kall added.

He explained there was little to no education in Cambodia and said he had worked like a slave in the rice fields.

Though it was a serious subject, Kall didn’t lecture. He used an
interactive style, involving as many kids as he could in his
presentation. He threw questions out, and every time a student answered a
question correctly, he rewarded them with a small Cambodian flag.

At one point, a student raised his hand and stated simply, “I’m so sorry for you.”

Kall talked about how books are considered treasures in Cambodia.
Only 10 percent of primary schools in his country have libraries,
although they cost only $5,000 to build.

The Eliot School students will be raising money through a read-a-thon
throughout the summer. The money will be going to build a library in
Africa. Two years ago, they raised $5,000, and that is once again the
goal.

It takes just $250 per year to educate a child for a year in Africa, according to Kall.

“Our whole motto is give the gift of literacy while receiving it,” Wilcox said.

Kall planned to be in the United States for a few more days before
heading back home to Cambodia, where he still believes he has a lot more
work to do.

“If you have education, it means opportunity,” he said.

Source: Needham Patch

Categories: Education, Local News

Today in History

May 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Today is Sunday, May 15, the 135th day of 2011. There are 230 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On
May 15, 1911, in Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, the
Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil was a monopoly in violation of the
Sherman Antitrust Act, and ordered its breakup.
On this date:
In
1602, English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold and his ship, the Concord,
arrived at present-day Cape Cod, which he’s credited with naming.
In 1776, Virginia endorsed American independence from Britain.
In 1886, poet Emily Dickinson died in Amherst, Mass., at age 55.
In
1930, registered nurse Ellen Church, the first airline stewardess, went
on duty aboard an Oakland-to-Chicago flight operated by Boeing Air
Transport (a forerunner of United Airlines).
In
1942, wartime gasoline rationing went into effect in 17 Eastern states,
limiting sales to three gallons a week for non-essential vehicles.
In 1963, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper blasted off aboard Faith 7 on the final mission of the Project Mercury space program.
In
1970, just after midnight, Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl
Green, two black students at Jackson State College in Mississippi, were
killed as police opened fire during student protests.
In
1972, George C. Wallace was shot by Arthur Bremer and left paralyzed
while campaigning in Laurel, Md., for the Democratic presidential
nomination.
Marines land on Koh Tang under heavy fire in 1975
In 1975, U.S. forces invaded
the Cambodian island of Koh Tang and recaptured the American merchant
ship Mayaguez. (All 40 crew members had already been released safely by
Cambodia; some 40 U.S. servicemen were killed in the operation.)
In
1991, Edith Cresson was appointed by French President Francois
Mitterrand (frahn-SWAH’ mee-teh-RAHN’) to be France’s first female prime
minister.
Ten
years ago: Tens of thousands of Palestinians packed town squares in the
West Bank town of Ramallah as they marked what they called the day of
“catastrophe” in 1948, when they were uprooted and the state of Israel
created. A celebratory mood took hold of Japan after the palace formally
announced that Crown Princess Masako was pregnant. (Princess Aiko was
born the following December.) A runaway freight train rolled about 70
miles through Ohio with no one aboard before a railroad employee jumped
onto the locomotive and brought it to a stop.
Five
years ago: In an Oval Office address, President George W. Bush said he
would order as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to secure the U.S.
border with Mexico, and he urged Congress to give millions of illegal
immigrants a chance at citizenship. A defiant Saddam Hussein refused to
enter a plea at his trial, insisting he was still Iraq’s president as a
judge formally charged him with crimes against humanity. The Pentagon
disclosed the names of everyone detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison
since its opening four years earlier. The U.S. removed Libya from its
list of terrorist states and said it would restore normal diplomatic
relations.
One year ago: Jessica Watson,
a 16-year-old Australian who’d spent seven months at sea in her pink
yacht, became the youngest sailor to circle the globe solo, nonstop and
unassisted as she arrived in Sydney. Lookin at Lucky, ridden by new
jockey Martin Garcia, won the Preakness.
Today’s
Birthdays: Playwright Sir Peter Shaffer is 85. Actress-singer Anna
Maria Alberghetti is 75. Counterculture icon Wavy Gravy is 75. Former
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is 74. Singer Trini Lopez is 74.
Singer Lenny Welch is 73. Actress-singer Lainie Kazan is 71. Actress
Gunilla Hutton is 69. Country singer K.T. Oslin is 69. Singer-songwriter
Brian Eno is 63. Actor Nicholas Hammond (“The Sound of Music”) is 61.
Actor Chazz Palminteri is 59. Baseball Hall-of-Famer George Brett is 58.
Musician-composer Mike Oldfield (“Tubular Bells”) is 58. Actor Lee
Horsley is 56. TV personality Giselle Fernandez is 50. Football
Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith is 42. Singer-rapper Prince Be (PM Dawn) is
41. Actor Brad Rowe is 41. Actor David Charvet is 39. Rock musician
Ahmet Zappa is 37. NFL player Ray Lewis is 36. Olympic gold-medal
gymnast Amy Chow is 33. Actor David Krumholtz is 33. Actress Jamie-Lynn
Sigler is 30. Rock musician Nick Perri is 27.
Thought for Today: “Behavior is what a man does, not what he thinks, feels, or believes.” – Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).
(Above Advance for Use Sunday, May 15)
Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Categories: Education, Local News

Schools Not Making Entrepreneurs: Business Leader

May 14, 2011 Leave a comment
A young business leader says Cambodian universities must do better to
develop young entrepreneurs, rather than teaching students to become
good employees.
Sila Chy Thmor , national president for the 2011 of Junior Chamber International Cambodia. Photo: Heng Reaksmey
“In schools, they teach young people how to find jobs, but why don’t
they teach them how to run their own businesses?” said Chy Sila,
president of the Junior Chamber International Cambodia, as a guest on
“Hello VOA” Monday.
JCIC was created last year to help train and provide business
opportunities for business leaders aged 18 to 40 and now has more than
100 members.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of students graduate each year, with few
of them able to find jobs, said Chy Sila, who has a range of businesses
from CD shops to IT services.
“If we can develop those youths to become business people or what we
call young entrepreneurs, then we have a better chance of alleviating
poverty in our country,” he said.
In Cambodian curriculum, students are often encouraged to study hard
so that they can penetrate a narrow job market as employees for private
companies or government institutions. Rarely are they taught how to
become their own boss.
Chy Sila said young people need more opportunity to be trained in how to best decide on starting up a business.
“Starting a business does not really requires huge capital, but it
takes knowledge and an understanding of the market’s needs and the
social environment around us,” he said. “There are always risks in
running a business, but no pain, no gain.”
Categories: Education, Local News

Cambodia: Study the Khmer Rouges to avoid the same mistakes, young Cambodian woman says

May 7, 2011 Leave a comment

A young woman writes a letter to a newspaper, saying that the
country’s history includes both the “marvellous period” of Angkor and
the hellish nightmare of Pol Pot’s regime. For many others, the
country’s recent history is painful, useless and better left forgotten.
Activists warn that UN trials …

Phnom Penh – “I believe that if we
do not learn from mistakes, the same mistakes will happen again,” wrote a
young Cambodian woman, Kunty Seng, in a letter published on phnompenhpost.com.
For her, Cambodians must study the “marvellous period” of the Angkor
era as well as the genocidal “reign of horror” under Pol Pot and his
Khmer Rouge acolytes. In the meantime, human rights groups are sounding
the alarm because the United Nations tribunal currently trying former
Khmer Rouge leaders, including former deputy prime minister and “Brother
Number Three” Ieng Sary, could close before it finishes its work.
Likewise, many are concerned that prosecutors are not conducting
investigations properly, which could compromise future prosecutions.
Cambodia still bears the scars of the four years of
Khmer Rouge rule (1975-1979), which killed almost two million people
(about a quarter of the population), including the country’s elites
(intellectuals, doctors, teachers and artists)
Sociologists and Catholic leaders have told AsiaNews
several times that Cambodians are not much inclined towards in-depth
self-analysis and historical introspection. Largely, “money and
economics”, not the past, are what counts. Still, there are some signs
that something is changing.
In her letter, Kunty Seng wrote that some of her
friends “say we should not talk about it because it is painful to be
reminded of such a horrible time in our history.” They “view the Khmer
Rouge tribunal as being useless because it can never bring all of the
Khmer Rouge cadres to justice. They say: ‘The tribunal is a fake symbol;
it is for a political gain only’.”
“I have a different view. I think that one needs to
talk about what happened during the Khmer Rouge regime. I know that
Cambodian leaders made a big mistake and future leaders must not make
the same mistake again. I believe that if we do not learn from mistakes,
the same mistakes will happen again.”
“Since my childhood, I have been taught about
Cambodia, the Land of Sovann Phumi or ‘Golden Land’,” about “the
marvellous period of Angkor era”, a place with beautiful temples that
are now part of the world’s heritage.
However, “I have learned very little in school about
what happened during the reign of horror of the Khmer Rouge,” she wrote.
“What I have learned I have learned from my parents and other
survivors.”
“I believe that [the] younger generation should be
taught both the good things about Cambodia” during the “Angkor era” and
“the terrible history of the Khmer Rouge.”
Meanwhile, legal and human rights activists are
concerned that Cambodia’s UN- backed genocide tribunal might shut down
before the main accused, Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng
Thirith, are tried, undermining any future trial against other former
Pol Pot officials.
Defence lawyers have in fact demanded the release of
their aged clients, who are on trial for war crimes and crimes against
humanity.
Last week the co-investigating judges, a Cambodian and
a German, officially informed the court that their investigation for
Case No. 3 was complete. The names of those being probed have been kept
secret, but they are believed to include at least five second-tier Khmer
Rouge officials.
Critics including Human Rights Watch say the
co-investigating judges have done an incomplete probe in an effort to
scuttle future prosecutions.
So far, the only accused that was convicted is Kaing
Guev Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, who ran the notorious S-21
prison in Phnom Penh.
He admitted his guilt, saying he followed orders, and for this was sentenced to 35 years in jail.
His lawyers have appealed the sentence.

Source: Asia News