SUCCESS & INNOVATION
ACTIVE SCHOOL MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE ENGAGEMENT MAKE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT CHANGEDate : 2021-05-24
Lom Primary School is located in Lom Village, which is a remote community in Cambodia’s Northeast. Lom Village is situated in O Yadav District of Ratanak Kiri Province and is comprised primarily of Jarai (about 95%), one of several indigenous ethnic minority groups who live in the province. The village is very close to the Vietnamese border and about 42 km from the provincial capital. Even the local Commune Office is very far away at 22 km. Lom PS was first built with financial support from an American, named Richard McDonald and the Provincial Office of Education, Youth and Sport of Ratanak Kiri. The school is 9,360 square meters in size, 120 meters in length and 78 meters in width and is surrounded by poor villagers and rice fields.
Currently, Lom PS has 386 students (194 girls) and is staffed with one school director and 8 teachers (3 female). Half of the teachers are Contract Teachers, which means that they are not certified teachers. The School Management Committee (SMC) is very active and in recent years has helped the school to develop very rapidly. The SMC consists of 19 members including teachers, commune council representatives, village chiefs, policemen, health officials, students, and parents. Mr. Puoy Thom was voted to be the SMC chairperson in charge of all school affairs along with the vice chairperson Mr. Sav Tving.
Before the Happy Cambodian Children (HCC) Project started to support interventions at the school, the SMC was very much challenged about how to develop the school partly because they were unclear about their roles and responsibilities. At that time, the SMC was not very active or engaged in the operation of the school. They did not monitor, observe or evaluate the teachers and students’ learning and had few resources to develop the school. They also lacked regular communication with the commune council. Similarly, parents and community members were not well aware about what was happening at the school and rarely attended school-wide meetings.
Since the HCC Project began providing support to the school in 2018, KAPE has focused heavily on building the capacity of the SMC to improve their understanding of their role; empowering them to take action with resources; and reaching out to the local community. Meetings at the school are now more frequent because there seems to be greater interest in what is happening at the school and higher engagement from parents than before. The SMC has also taken on many new initiatives including improving learning environments and the organization of the school grounds which have been transformed from a red desert into a green park.
With support from HCC, the SMC has gained in confidence and profited from past lessons. The committee seems much more empowered in setting their own priorities, raising local funds to supplement those provided by the project, and organizing activities at the school that contribute to children’s attendance and learning. The committee now meets regularly, has high attendance, and documents all of its proceedings in the form of reports and meeting minutes. Their transparency in the use of budgetary resources has further reinforced community engagement in the school as well. The SMC has learned a lot from the project including improved school management and improved communication with communities, school staff, and donors. They have supported the emplacement of temporary buildings for the local children and used school grants for many activities including garden enhancement, procurement of teaching and learning aids, setting up a Child Friendly School system, food for preschool in the mornings, and scholarships.
The School Management Committee has used project achievements to attract parents and local authorities to engage in school development more transparently. The SSC, many of whose members also sit on the SMC, have also supported school activities to reach out to parents, stress the importance of education, and inform parents about the many improvements that are taking place at the school. Although the school has done much more than just improve school infrastructure, the new building designs funded by the HCC Project has made the school a cleaner and happier place for children to study. This has greatly increased the motivation of children to want to be in school as well as the willingness of parents to want to send their children to school on a regular basis. The SMC also motivates parents to borrow learning aids and books from the school library and to teach their children at home. These new services, which did not exist before, have become particularly important during the periods of school closure due to the Covid19 Pandemic. The SMC hopes that it will continue to receive support from KAPE both in terms of technical assistance as well as material resources to maintain what they have already achieved during the last several years.
Mr. Puoy Thom is the SMC chairman and also a village chief. During a recent interview, he said, “Previously, I was not so interested in school activities because I thought that it was the responsibility of the teachers and school director. I rarely came to school unless the school director invited me to join the meeting, usually around 2 times per year only. But since the involvement of the HCC Project, I have been very happy to not only join but also lead the school activities more frequently, such as school environment improvement and building temporary classrooms, since our school is now very crowded and there are not enough classrooms. I have always participated in the meetings with teachers and parents. I have become much more aware of the need to come to the school every week to support schoolwork”. He continued that, “furthermore, I have often received invitations from the project to attend training workshops and meetings, since the project started in 2018. I am really happy to see these changes. I love my school and continue to support school activities especially supporting children’s learning”.
Mr. Hang Phan, the School Director, was also interviewed for this case study. Mr. Phann also sits on the School Management Committee and had this to say, “In 2005, Lorm PS was created with one building and 3 classes with no office or library. In the following years, there have been more than 300 children registering to study at my school, which did not have enough classes to accommodate them all. In addition, we did not have enough teachers to staff classrooms and had to rely heavily on Contract Teachers, whenever we could get them (which also is not easy).” He continued, “it was a good opportunity in 2018 because my school started to receive support from HCC for both preschool and primary school. My school has received technical trainings, teaching materials, school improvement plans, and major renovation of school facilities. I would like to share my deep gratitude to HCC and its staff who always support my school both in terms of training and coaching directly. Most school activities are currently progressing smoothly. The communities very much appreciate what my school is doing attitudes have greatly improved since the project started. Last, I would like to thank the Kinchan Foundation who support school in my communities through KAPE. I promise to commit to continued efforts to further improve the school in the future”.
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