Reflecting back on my three weeks in Siem Reap, one day that stands out to me is the morning we spent in the NGO, SeeBeyondBorders. Colm Byrne formerly of DPETNS now works for this educational NGO.
To me, I believe you get a sense of an organisation by the people you meet and in SeeBeyondBorders we got to meet many motivated educators who are passionate about improving education in Cambodia. Reasmey was the first members of staff I spoke with and his energy was evident as he spoke about his role and the education system in Cambodia. SeeBeyondBorders is working hard to make a positive change to the Khmer primary education system. He explained how Seebeyondborders held workshops for qualified teachers and how many teachers came together to attend these workshops. My memories of NQT classes came flooding back to me. Similarities yet many differences also.
As the day went on Pov, the Country Manager of SeeBeyondBprders spoke about the three year mentoring programme in schools. Mentee teachers are learning from other teachers in the school. Maeve principal of DPETNS then did a presentation and explained about how mentoring worked in DPETNS. She highlighted the importance of being able to ask for help and to be critical friends with other members of staff.
As our time in Cambodia went on, I gained a deeper understanding of the approach of SeeBeyondBorders. It is focused on improving teaching standards in primary schools using Maths in grades one to three as the tool. Communities of teachers and mentors then seek to improve standards across other subjects also. Following our morning in SeeBeyondBorders Maeve and I spent an afternoon with Pov discussing the Irish education system and exploring links with educational institutions here. We also spent some time with Reasmey in Battambang where SeeBeyondBorders head office is. Khmer leaders in SeeBeyondBorders like Pov and Reasmey are empowering others in Cambodia through the gift of education
SeeBeyondBorders have already had representatives from the two main teaching colleges in Ireland visiting them in Siem Reap. Liavan Mallin who is a Board Member in DCU visited SeeBeyondBorders in July. Like DPETNS and PEPY, DCU are of course a changemaker organisation. Dr. Barbara O’Toole who is Director Of Masters in Education Studies in Marino also spent time in SeeBeyondBorders in August. Links with educational bodies in Ireland await perhaps. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.
I left Cambodia pondering the impact this NGO could have if all teachers had access to a mentoring programme and training workshops. I have no doubt that SeeBeyondBorders will have an impact on teachers and ultimately on primary school students. The ripple effect of this NGO is a powerful and exciting one.