By: Phann Bunnath, Cambodia
Weeks have gone with productive result of my professional fellowship program with other my coordinator and other ASEAN fellows. Four weeks has almost gone for the time of my staying in U.S. That I have to go back to my country, and start to do an action plan for my project and a lot people are waiting for me to share what I have learned from here as well.
Through these weeks, I have learned a lot from experienced people in the field of NGO development, fund raising strategies and marketing, nature of American non-profit organization, education and diversity…etc. There is not only the amazing experience, but also the challenges of American education system as well. For instant, the “tribal education” that still the concerns of older people of tribes because of losing the language. It was a part of big impact of modernization while the young generation more influences by TV and socialize outside the house. The tribes seem to get success in advocacy in terms of rights to protect their cultures, revenue from natural resources, get their children to school and autonomous government but could not preserve the languages, while most tribes in Cambodia could preserve their own languages but could not claim their rights.
For general education at secondary levels are amazing, most of schools are well developed, enabling environment of schools, subject classroom full of teaching aids, all teachers use ICT in teaching, students learn both theory and experiment at the same times, database to keep tracking students attendants and alert to parents, very good space of library room with thousands of books for students to research more beside classroom based-learning, physical and mental counseling, career and academic counseling, reporting system, sports, arts, and music…etc. The performance of school principals and teachers here are completely difference from Cambodia. Teacher absenteeism is still the concern, private tutoring class is more common for every school across the country that the teachers expect to get more incomes from the students informally, classroom just have only the white board and table for students, no subject classroom, lack of teaching materials, lack of science labs, and computer labs, students just keep listen to the teachers talk but not activities, poor management and leadership, no initiative and low quality of service, and the dropout rate still very high at secondary school levels.
I did attend the workshop hosting by University of Montana on “Defining a 21st Century Education for a Vibrant Democracy” last week. This workshop has plenty of topics that focus on enhancing the general education prepare engaged citizens and what is the role of general or liberal education, in today’s society meet the need of labor markets. The participants had proposed in majority about soft-skills such as “critical thinking, communication and problem solving”. On the other hand, the panels also discussed a lot about global learning and diversity. Come up to this point, it really gets me to reflect to Cambodian education system nowadays seems 1000 miles behind the States. Cambodia should be aware of its own quality now otherwise, it will face a big challenge for upcoming ASEAN integration this 2015.
There are a lot of things in my head in what I am going to bring back to my home country and do it difference. I think that there will be a big challenge for me to do that for national influence but if I don’t start so who will start? This question always comes to me when I saw something impress. However, I still hope for the best for initiative. Setting down with all my colleagues to share what I have learned from the best practice here will be the first step. Then I am going to provide capacity building on school good governance, management and leadership and work with related education staff from sub-national and national level on educational policies enforcement, mobilize communities to involve in education and support school development and capacity building to teachers on teacher professional development. I believe only education could bring my country out of the poverty and only education could change my country positively and good education bring real democracy as the quote from Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Note: Last posting was problem with format as it was big font some paragraph. I am so sorry for this intentional purpose.