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Learning at an accelerated pace

Wed 23 Sep 2015 | Over-aged Students | Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE)


Kong Sreynoeurn, 15 years old, lives in a poor family near the dumpsite of Steung Meanchey. Three years ago, she had to take care of her mother who had cancer, while her father was an alcoholic and violent. She dropped out of school. I didnt feel I could study when my family situation was so difficult. I often went scavenging with my friends, she says.  A few months later, her mother passed away.


Sreynoeurn wanted to go back to school and she thought it was not impossible. I was 13 years old and I could not read. How could I return to school? she explains. She contacted the NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE) and had the opportunity to attend Accelerated Learning Classes in the 2013-2014  academic year. The classes were equivalent to grades 1 and 2.


Two years in one: the opportunity to go back to school


These classes offer older students who had dropped out of school a chance to catch up with their peers. Designed to help them complete two years of education in just one year, the project is implemented by PSE, as part of the Cambodian Consortium for Out Of School Children (CCOSC) led by Aide et Action (AEA) and co-funded by Educate A Child (EAC).


At the beginning, Sreynoeurn reacted negatively because she thought that she had to study with young children. In reality, there were a lot of children the same age as her in her class, explains the PSE School director Mr. San Samet. AEA Programme Officer Sarym Heang also explains: Over-aged students are often subject to teasing and discrimination by their fellow peers. The stigma associated with being older than other classmates pushes them out of school. Enrolling them in Accelerated Learning classes really helps them to feel comfortable to learn and actively engage in the learning process. By combining two years into one, accelerated learning helps bridge the age gap. 


Building Sreynoeurns future


Nearly 1 out of 5 school drop outs in Cambodia are over-aged, according to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. The CCOSC provides learning spaces for children who would otherwise be kept out of school, and produces materials such as textbooks developed specifically for accelerated learning.


 Accelerated learning is a bridging program providing opportunities for over-aged students to learn in a condensed primary school curriculum which allow them to catch up with the Cambodian educational system at the right age, adds  Sarym Heang.


After only three months, Sreynoeurn was able to read and write in Khmer. This year, she’s in a class that is equivalent to grades 3 and 4. Her results are very encouraging and she shows a lot of enthusiasm. She is the third best student in her class out of 34 students. There are good reasons to be proud of her abilities to learn at a fast pace covering several grades in a short period of time.


 To live in better conditions, I need appropriate knowledge and qualified skills. I can achieve this through hard work, she says with confidence. She thinks about studying Interpretation at the Institute of Foreign Languages or Cooking at a Vocational Training Center.