Last year during my visit to Siem Reap, I spent a morning in SeeBeyondBorders where I got the opportunity to meet with the staff and to share our learning/teaching experiences. From this moment I knew that SeeBeyondBorders was helping to make real change in primary schools. Today, I and a group of other Irish teachers and INTO Assistant General Secretary Deirdre O’Connor got to observe the mentoring programme in Svay Chek Primary School and my belief in that change was strongly reaffirmed.
We arrived to a primary school in the Angkor Thom District where we were greeted by smiley children and welcoming staff. It was evident that this was a happy place to go to school. During our visit, we were fortunate to see a PE lesson taking place, this is part of the SeeBeyondBorders programme where they upskill teachers on sport in schools and encourage children to be active during the school day. I was really impressed as I saw children being active and laughing together. As PE is not regularly taught, I think what SeeBeyondBorders are doing along side their work on Maths is remarkable.
We also sat in on a Maths lesson, where we saw a Mentee teacher being observed by her mentor, the school principal. The atmosphere was relaxed and the energy in the room was very positive. The teacher used concrete resources and modelling to teach the children about place value of tens and units. The children engaged in group work and the teacher went around to help the children. It is very similar to the Droichead programme in Ireland that mentor NQTs, the Mentee and Mentor reflected after the lesson and spoke about what went well and what the teacher could work on.
For me, the two things that stood out today were that the teacher had a very positive relationship with the children and also with her Mentor. Even though it was all through Khmer, you could feel the the respect among teachers and children. I also noticed that the Mentee teacher really cared about education, she has many resources and support materials up on the walls for the children that she had made herself for example, she had made her own 100 square. She also made individual worksheets for the children. I left the primary school knowing that the teachers of this school really care and are putting in the effort to ensure the children can access quality education. The work that Pov and SeeBeyondBorders are doing is inspiring. Real change for real people.