Becoming a Top 12 Student Despite of Her Learning Disability
A charming little girl, Sreyneang smiles at us when we meet her in a beautiful classroom. Now 12 years old and studying in grade 4 at Kaoh Voat primary school, she happily shared how she felt after becoming a top 12 student while studying at a school supported by Save the Children’s Inclusive Learning project.
“I never get bored of studying at my school because it is a really pleasant place to be, and the teachers are very good to my friends and me,” said Sreyneang, adding that she appreciates her teachers’ methods for teaching their students.
Tha Sreyneang is the eldest of four children and lives with her siblings and parents in Bakan district, Pursat Province. Sreyneang’s father works as a tractor driver to earn income and support the family. Her mother works at home, taking care of the house and young children. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, her father has faced challenges going out to earn income to support the family because he is afraid of catching the virus. Though Sreyneang helps take care of her young siblings and does chores like cooking and cleaning the house, she sometimes helps harvest crops on other farms to earn extra income for the family during this tough time.
Previously, Sreyneang had difficulty remembering her lessons, and she could not read or write the Khmer alphabet. Furthermore, Sreyneang did not dare play or join any activities with her classmates because of her difficulties with her studies.
In 2015, with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Save the Children and its local partner Buddhism for Social Development Action began implementing the Inclusive Learning Project in Sreyneang’s community. The project provided training and demonstrations to support teachers and school directors in identifying children with learning disabilities and employing proper teaching methodologies to enhance inclusive learning.
“Since our school received support from the project [Inclusive Learning], we can identify children with disabilities,” Khat Virak, Sreyneang’s teacher, explained. “We have applied new teaching methodologies to support children with learning disabilities, like Sreyneang.”
For a long time, the teacher produced materials like word cards and picture cards to help Sreyneang remember words; but now, the teacher can teach Sreyneang like the other children, and she can read and write as well as her classmates. Sreyneang can spell difficult words during dictation sessions. She is also able to participate in group work with her classmates and is more involved in school activities.
Day by day, Sreyneang makes more friends. Because she is friendly, helpful, and kind to her classmates, everyone who gets to know her grows to admire and love her. “I like coming to class; it makes me feel happy,” Sreyneang said with a big smile. “I like reading books and doing exercises with my friends.”
“Sreyneang frequently volunteers to read books in class, which is improving her reading skills,” Virak explained. “I am happy to see her learning progress.”
Sreyneang’s mother is also excited to see her daughter’s improvements: “I motivate her to study hard. I want to see her have a bright future.”
In early January 2021, Sreyneang got 25 scores in numeracy and 264 scores in literacy during the project's end-line evaluation. This shows that Sreyneang’s learning outcomes have improved and that the teaching methodologies employed were effective.
Sreyneang’s parents bought her a new bicycle with their savings, and she was thrilled when she got it. With a smile showing her excitement, Sreyneang told us that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.