Insight: Classroom Cambodia

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By Chua Weizhen

During my undergraduate days, I took part in a Youth Expedition Project (YEP) in which we went to Cambodia to build a school and a library. We also delivered various essential supplies to the rural villages. And in this trip, I witnessed for myself the modest lives of rural Cambodians, learnt to appreciate life at its simplest, as well as never to take things for granted.

In poverty-stricken rural Cambodia, education remains at large a luxury rather than a necessity. Due to the nature of their livelihood, most of the children have to tend to the fields, look after their siblings, or work to support their family – needless to say, they have so much more to do than going to school, which they may not be afford in the first place. Hence, when given a chance to go to school, the Cambodian children make full use of the opportunity to better their future and escape from this vicious cycle.

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Enthusiastic Cambodian kids learning English taught by volunteers.

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A responsible sister piggybacked her younger brother to school so that she could attend class.

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Boy learning the colours in English by going hands-on.

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Peeking through the windows of a classroom, anyone would be able to see the children's eagerness to learn despite the poorly equipped environment.

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In order to save precious paper and pen, the school children practice writing on small wooden chalkboard in their dimly lit classroom.

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Two girls created their own learning opportunity by listening to the lessons taught in the classroom from outside the classroom.

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An open-air classroom filled with children of different age group is common, as they do not get to start school at the same age. The age gap between the oldest and youngest can stretch to as many as 10 years old.

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Prior to this YEP trip, I have always lamented about our education system despite studying in fully functional schools with state-of-the-art facilities. Just like most Singaporean youths, I have taken our education system for granted. This trip has indeed broadened my horizon and set me thinking about the education I’ve received here in Singapore. I am thankful for the education I have received, and I have derived great joy and pleasure in touching the lives of others who are not as fortunate as I am.

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