Thursday, January 22, 2009

PSE Provides Free Training for Poor Students

By BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Many national and international humanitarian organizations have provided free training to poor students in Cambodia, according to Ton Sa Im, Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS).

The Under Secretary of State said that among these humanitarian organizations, Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE) is one international organization which has freely offered training and other life skills to the poor, with concentration on disadvantaged children in Cambodia.

“I am very proud of PSE. It has been helping the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports in providing basic education to the poor in Cambodia,” he said. “I think PSE’s activities really helped the Cambodian government to improve and promote the educational system in Cambodia,” she told The Cambodia Weekly during an interview on January 15.

The Under Secretary of State has appealed to PSE’s Director and Managers and other local and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to continue their support and increase scholarships for poor children so that they can access the benefits of education together.

Pin Sarapich, PSE’s Program Director, said that PSE is a non-political and non-religious association, created in 1993, which supports underprivileged and undereducated children. He said that since 1996, children working and living in hard conditions in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville have been the organization’s focus.

The Program Director said that PSE plans to select a further 500 children to attend PSE’s center at Stung Mean Chey, Phnom Penh this year. He also said that currently there are about 6500 children supported by PSE. The organization also has 500 employees including teachers, workers and office employees.

Most of children are underprivileged and come from rural areas, provinces and cities across the Kingdom of Cambodia, said Sarapich. He added that to date, roughly 1,200 students have graduated from the schools and embarked upon a professional life.

PSE now has nine schools and provides classes in 19 broad areas including Home and Food Management, Mechanics, Information Technology, Hairdressing, Beauty Care and Spas, Management, Business, Hotel Management, Construction and Agriculture.

“PSE provides free training for less well-to-do children from primary school up to high school. The training follows MoEYS curricular and systems,” he said.

The Center also has three additional programs including the Center for Catching Up for children whose situation in the past has prevented them attending formal schools; there is the Center for Schooling at Local State Schools which aims to assist poorer families whose children qualify for local schooling but cannot afford school fees; there is also the Vocational Training Center which aims to provide professional training and life skills to children.

“The student will complete two grades in one year for the first six grades (from grade 1 to grade 6).Then, they will follow the normal courses (1 grade completed in 1 year) from grade 7th to grade 12th. The goal is, with appropriate teaching, to help children catch up as far as the learning abilities of the individual child will permit; two grades are completed in one year,” he told the Cambodia Weekly during an interview on January 14.

He added, “We now cover kindergarten, all six grades of primary school, the three grades of junior high-school, and the three years of high-school leading to the ‘baccalaureate’. We follow Government designed curricula and enroll our students in the official state examinations with a gratifyingly high degree of success.”

He emphasized that to date, more than 90 percent of the children are able to join the catch-up system and many have reached grade twelve for the senior year of high school within eight years.

Referring to PSE’s training, he said that foreign languages, geography, astronomy, mathematics and physics classes are taught with much use of interesting supplementary material in the form of videocassettes and DVDs which allows fort a better understanding. The physics, chemistry, and biology labs are in continuous use.

Sarapich said PSE also provides training in theater and traditional dance, courses in morality and Human Rights, the Rights of Children, Family Life and Citizenship. These encourage the development of social values and a sense of the richness of Khmer culture. The list of courses is rounded off by training in general sports, health, hygiene and sex education; the latter includes classes that promote awareness of the dangers of AIDS, tuberculosis, and other serious diseases.
He added that all children who attended PSE classes also received two meals and two snacks per day, along with other benefits including healthcare, school materials, school uniforms and rice compensation for certain families in need of a little extra help. For the homeless or orphaned student, there are also dormitories at the PSE Center.
Hem Simany, 21, a PSE’s Sales and Marketing Student from Kandal Province, said that he and his younger sister have been attending PSE classes for seven years.

“I am very happy to be supported by PSE and enjoy living and studying at the center,” he said. “I was orphaned and therefore very poor, so I could not go to school. I will try my best to respect the center’s rules, do my home work and complete my courses.”

Ith Borey from Prey Veng province, 18, another PSE student studying the culinary arts said that she is also happy to attend PSE classes. She said that she was financially supported and has attended PSE classes since 2007.

“I am very pleased that I have found a qualified school in Phnom Penh. I prefer to study at PSE. I hope that I will able to find a job as cook with a restaurant or hotel in Phnom Penh after I complete my course in next year,” she told The Cambodia Weekly during an interview on January 15.

She said that she used to attend the state high school in Prey Veng province before moving to PSE in Phnom Penh. She added that PSE training programs were interesting, the teachers strict though approachable and she recommended it as a place for disadvantaged children to learn.
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