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1 July 2020 - Story

“Reading books truly changed my life”

Sean Sokheng, an 11 year-old girl, studying in grade 6 at Chumteav Sokh primary school, lives with her family in ChumTeav Sokh Village, which is close to the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia. Sokheng excitedly stated that reading books has truly changed her life.

“I am so excited to win first prize for the reading competition in Kampong Chhnang province, said Sokheng “Reading books helped me to win this prize so I enjoy reading books.”

Sokheng is the youngest in her family, which consists of her parents and her older brother.  Sokheng’s father is a farmer, and her mother is a security guard at a garment factory located around 37 kilometers outside the capital of Kampong Chhnang. She is also a member of her daughter’s classroom committee. “Previously Sokheng and other students in the class did not study hard, they did not read and did not write well,” said Ms. Hatch, Sokheng’s mother.

“I rarely saw my students spend time reading books,” said Mrs. Yem Vesna, Sokheng’s teacher, “The library was so silent because there were no inviting decorations on the walls and even the books were not well organized.”

With funding support from Save the Children Korea, Save the Children and partners have worked closely with the Provincial Office of Education to implement the Education with Quality and Inclusive Learning (EQUAL) project in Kampong Tralach Commune. One of the goals of the project is to support communities to participate in children’s education through establishing community reading club activities. The EQUAL project also provides capacity building in school’s literacy and numeracy teaching methods to enable more quality teaching practices and improve childrens’ learning outcomes.

After receiving support from the project, Sokheng’s school and community worked together to improve the school environment by painting walls with new colors, planting more trees in the playground as well as re-organizing book shelves so students could come and enjoy reading books in the library.

“My students were happy and felt comfortable to read books in the new colorful library,” Mrs. Vesna stated, “The province organized a reading competition at the school level, where Sokheng and other interested students could join the competition and change their behaviors towards reading.”

Now, during break time, Sokheng always goes to the library to read books and do research. She helps explain the stories she learns from her books to her friends in class, and even reads books to grade one students in order to help them learn.

8 schools representing 8 towns in Kampong Chhnang participated in the friendly reading competition. A committee comprised of the Department of Culture and Fine Art and the Department of Education in the province evaluated the competition. Sokheng won the first prize amongst 24 candidates, where she is invited to participate in a reading competition at the national level.

“Sokheng won the award because she is good at reading and has a clear tone with each word she reads,” Mrs. Vesna commented, “She spends most of her time with books even during break time.”

Sokheng smiles when asked about her future. “In the future, I want to be a teacher. I especially want to share knowledge with the next generation and to contribute to the development of the country.”