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11 March 2021 - Story

Learning Club Saves Children’s Education

Standing in the playground area, storybook in hand, Phak, an eleven-year-old girl, openly reflects on her experience with learning clubs while her school was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phak said that she felt worried when her teacher announced that they would begin studying in a community learning club because she was afraid of getting the virus. However, she was also happy that she could continue learning where she could enjoy reading many books and using recycling materials for learning games.

“I am happy with the learning materials we used during this tough time,” Phak explained. “They helped me improve my grades.”

Phak is in Grade 5 at Preal primary school. She is the oldest daughter in a poor family of five in Preal village, Banteay Preal commune, Rolea B'ier district, Kampong Chhnang province. At first, Phak found it difficult to keep learning after the school closed. Because of her family’s situation, she could not access distance learning materials through television or smartphone. Learning materials were also unavailable through the school library.

“Previously, we did not have materials to keep in the library, Bun Than, Phak’s teacher, said. “Students had difficulty finding resources to learn through distance learning.”

In 2020, with funding from Kyobo Life Insurance Company through Save the Children Korea, Save the Children worked closely with the Provincial Office of Education to implement the Education with Quality and Inclusive Learning (EQUAL) project in Prey Mul Commune. The project aimed to promote school environments that were safe and supported effective learning by providing child-friendly books and materials for their libraries. 

“After we received support from the project, we built a small temporary learning club in my house,” Chanrin, a school principal claimed. “We prepared a child-friendly book centre to support children’s learning during crises.” 

Phak and other children enjoyed going to the learning club because there were many different books, including textbooks, picture books, and storybooks. Furthermore, the students would hold storytelling sessions at the learning club. Phak tells us that she always reads short stories to smaller children because it made her feel happy.

“When we went back to school, I kept doing this for my juniors,” Phak said with a big smile.

Phak and her friends always come to read books in the library during break. Sometimes, she borrows books for extra reading. She is energetic in her storytelling for young children, and she often helps her younger siblings paint in the picture books and do exercises at home. 

The learning club is full of activity because children come to learn and play every day after school. “When the Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) visited our school and learning club, he expressed appreciation for this approach to distance learning,” Chanrin continued, “because he saw many children making dynamic use of the learning club.”

Because of this, the Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) encouraged the Provincial of Education Director of Kampong Chhnang to scale up this model in thirty more schools.  

Phak said she wants to be a “Teacher” in the future, so she can help other children for better reading, and writing for Khmer study, especially children who hard to access learning.