Communication :

The new school year at Bayon Pastry School

My name is Camille. I study in a business school and just joined the Bayon team, as part of my career project of working in international solidarity. After an eight-months experience in the charity sector in France, and a six-months experience starting up a business, I wanted to explore the charity sector on the ground. I wanted to get involved in a solidarity project in the education and development sector and then joined Bayon School.
Despite arriving in a rainy Cambodia – it was wet season – I was given a warm welcome by the whole Bayon team and the last few students from the previous year who were still living in the school.

Throughout the days, I am taking my marks. I really enjoy my mission, as I will be working across the pastry and the primary school. I also try to learn a few words in Khmer and discover the Cambodian cuisine, which is fantastic. The school is providing me with an accommodation on the pastry school’s top floor.
On my first Sunday there, twenty-two young women join the school. They arrive little by little, either on their own or with their family, by tuk-tuk or on a scooter, all with a big smile on their faces.
My first contact with them is a bit tricky, because of the language barrier but also because I feel like I intimidate them. They stoop when walking by me! I’m looking forward to them speaking English so that we can chat. For now, even though we can’t really speak, we smile at each other, which creates a start of a relationship. They settle in their room, shared between 6 students, and they already seem to be making friends and having fun.

On the first morning with my new neighbours, I find out they are early birds! At 6 am, they are already up. I can tell they are excited, almost impatient.
9:30 is the big time: all team members and students introduce themselves. As Rodrigo and Anaïs introduce themselves, the students seem impressed and have no idea they also are on their first day as mission coordinators. They then meet Srey Leak, coffee shop manager and graduate from the school’s first intake. The training suddenly becomes very real to them. Here we are: new year, new intake, and it feels emotional.
On the next day, I want to have dinner with the students. Unfortunately, they’ve already had dinner and only two of them are still seated at the kitchen table. Luckily, they know a few English words and we try to chat. We talk about our meal and I ask them how they find their first classes. They seem really happy when they tell me they liked them.
I’m looking forward to the next four months – seeing the students evolve and become great pastry cooks. They won’t need to beg me to be their pastries and cakes guinea pigs! On both the personal and professional level, I am excited about learning new things with the fabulous Bayon team, who are full of energy and kindness.
, 17 September 2018

New faces at Bayon school

Transforming the teaching practices at Bayon School requires growing our team. Get to know the new members who have joined us in our mission in Siem Reap.
Anaïs and Rodrigo joined our team in March 2018 to analyse the way the school works. By pursuing their mission from September 2018 to February 2019 as mission coordinators, they will be able to implement their recommendations.
This review of our teaching practices will help us take further our mission of providing quality education to disadvantaged children living in the temples area.
The appointment of a full-time headmaster is essential to the implementation of Bayon School’s new educational programme. Phorn has been given this role – he will facilitate the implementation of this new framework and manage the school. As a young high school teacher, he also has done research on innovative teaching practices. Member of the organisation “40K Plus Education”, whose mission is to improve access to quality education in Cambodia and India, his approach to the practices and activities implemented in primary school will allow him to make adjustments and recommendations to our teams. More particularly, he will be in charge of setting the KPIs that will evaluate the school’s transformation.

The primary school’s team of teachers is going through some changes as well. This year, we welcomed Sokheng, digital teacher and Sophany, in charge of the library and support classes.
Sokheng will be teaching the basics of computer science to Grade 5 students, some of which have never seen a computer. We are also planning to introduce our students to the basics of coding in order to develop their sense of logics and strategy.
Library classes will also be a whole part of our students’ schedule: all grades will attend the library two hours a week, with reading and games. Sophany will be in charge of making this place lively, and will also provide students with difficulties with individual tutoring classes, using specific learning methods.

Another Cambodian teacher has been recruited to teach complementary courses at the pastry school. As a young 25-year-old teacher, Chomrong is a 25-year-old teacher and took over Marie’s position at the beginning of this school year. After teaching English at the JACC Centre (for underprivileged children), he now teaches English, Business, Computer Sciences and Personal Development since the beginning of September for students.
Finally, our new volunteer Camille is going to work across both schools – the primary and the pastry school – over the next four months. She will be in charge of the arts classes at the primary school and is already working on the coffee shop development.
We all are very enthusiastic about our new team members!

Anaïs and Rodrigo’s recommendations

This school year, Bayon primary school will go through significant change. After completing some renovation work, we are now looking at the way the school is organised and the teachers’ practices, based on Anaïs and Rodrigo’s recommendations.
One of their key recommendations is the appointment of a full-time headmaster, so that the school can be continually supervised throughout the week. As a result, we hired Dy Phorn as the new headmaster in September. He will be at the school with the students permanently and will be able to supervise and support the teachers. One of his missions will be to develop a new, clear and rigorous organization of the school life. A general supervisor has also been appointed to ensure the safety of children and maintenance in the school.

We want each student to be personally monitored. For this, support courses will be revised – they will now be done in small groups to allow our teacher Sophany to follow them individually. They will be pedagogically different from the whole class and will adapt to the best learning methods for each child. This will require a great coordination between the support professor and the teachers in each grade and facilitate the choice of the right method for each student.
The children will also have access to new courses, thanks to a rationalisation of the schedule, which will be closer to the requirements of the Cambodian Ministry of Education. This will also allow more time for the teachers and the headmaster to work together. The teachers will be able to better prepare their lessons, better understand the students and their needs, and plan training and discussion times to share good practices. This collaborative environment will be beneficial for our teachers as well as for our students.

The establishment of a library this year also opens the opportunity to integrate library sessions in all grades’ schedules. Furthermore, computing classes will be provided to the students in the higher grades. Students will be able to learn how to use a computer, but also strengthen their learning of all subjects in an innovative way. Whilst it has been optional until now, the Apsara art and dance classes will be taught to all children, all year long. These courses aren’t only a way for children to learn more about their culture, but they also help them develop their creativity, their curiosity, and their ability to express their thoughts and to create together with their classmates.
Many projects are underway to achieve this reorganization of the primary school. We want to continue strengthening the school’s health program, informing children about first aid rules, implementing vaccination follow-up, and work closely with other medical NGOs to provide them with the dental and ocular cares they need.
We want to further strengthen our relationships with our students’ families, to raise awareness of the importance of sending their children to school. This is essential, because most students’ parents have never been to school. Of course, this requires a strong communication work, with the help of our social worker, and we will also organise positive events at the school, where children can demonstrate their involvement in education.
Even though implementing change in the education sector takes time, most of these projects will be completed during the coming school year. All this wouldn’t be possible without all the support we receive and the involvement of the NGO’s teams, so we’d like to say a huge thank you!

Reviewing our pedagogic method and educational philosophy

Rodrigo and Anaïs joined Bayon School in March 2018 to assess the way our primary school works and delivers its mission. As educational policy experts, particularly in the area of policies in the fight against poverty, they spent a few months at the primary school to study the way it works and understand how classes are taught. From this study, they drew conclusions and made recommendations for the coming years.
After a few years developing its facilities, Bayon primary school now has all the equipment needed to provide quality education to its students, who are always enthusiastic about going to school. A lof of our students are at school for the whole day no matter what time their lessons start, and have made the school their home. At Bayon, the focus on English teaching is stronger than in public schools, and since last year, students have been enjoying sports activities. Families have become more aware of the importance of school and the financial benefit for their future.

With these strong foundations, we can now focus on better adjusting the way the school and its teachers work to our students’ needs. We have identified a few areas that need to be reviewed to allow both students and teacher to work in the best conditions and achieve optimal results.
Bayon School is working towards one of the most difficult challenges – whatever the country – giving very underprivileged children the same chances for a successful education as children from wealthier backgrounds. On average, a child coming from a disadvantaged background is two school years behind.
Bayon School has chosen to provide these disadvantaged students with the resources they need to pursue their education to Grade 6. Students are also given further support to enter secondary school.

Bayon School students are all very likely to face challenges, and our new educational strategy must account for several topics. Indeed, whilst the gap between students’ scores is very usual, we have found several ways to reduce it. With the right tools, the school is able to compensate the students’ difficult socio-economic situation.
Thanks to our team’s strong motivation and reactivity, we have already assessed the remaining lacks of our school. This work will be the foundation to review the primary school’s way of working and start implementing our new strategy.