Almost every aspect of Cambodian society has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, but – alongside hospitals and health centers - schools have perhaps faced the greatest difficulties. They have dealt with the disruption of needing to close at least twice and transforming everything about the way they work in order to support students to learn from a distance.
Over the last year we have heard many tales of extraordinary individual efforts, including teachers who travelled long distances in order to deliver learning materials, or school directors who came up with ingenious ways to support home studies. But today, we want to tell the story of a whole school.
Wat Cheng Primary School in Battambang achieved advanced child-friendly school status in 2016, confirming it as having created an environment conducive to the holistic development of all 493 children who study there. The School Management Committee , as well as the school director and all teachers, worked hard for that achievement, but were tested even more by the pandemic.
Mr. Son Sambat is the school’s director. He says that in order to prepare for safe reopening, “our school had great need for hygiene materials, including soap, alcohol, thermometers, and masks.”
He also says that the school needed additional resources to make distance learning possible for children who didn’t have access to online lessons: “We needed extra materials such as paper and ink to photocopy handouts to support children’s learning at home. Around 40% of our children rely on these handouts and come to pick up the handouts twice weekly.”