Saturday, July 26, 2014

“I know that every day I am doing something important” Community preschool teacher: Nak Sokhom

By Rowena Campbell

©UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Rowena Campbell
Ms. Sokham teaches 3-5 year olds at the village Community Preschool

Preschool students giggle and shout as they join in with their teacher learning numbers, singing songs and drawing pictures of a train track on their small blackboard slates. Surrounded by colouful drawings and hanging posters showing images of the alphabet and numbers, Nak Sokhom teaches a group of 3 to 5 year olds.

©UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Rowena Campbell
Children sing a song about the importance of washing their hands at Beng Community Preschool

Ms. Sokhom has been teaching preschool children for 14 years. She takes huge pride in her work and ability to keep the children engaged and interested and makes colourful teaching materials to illustrate numbers and letters, a technique she learnt at a five day UNICEF-supported training course run by the Provincial Office of Education. Following the training she received play materials including storybooks, pens, papers, posters and chalk slates.

‘I love teaching. I know that every day I am doing something important which is why I’m still teaching now, 14 years after I first started!’ says Ms. Sokhom. 49 year old Sokhom, who has four children of her own, was recruited by the POE and POWA. Following a 10 day training course funded by UNICEF and provided by the POE, she began teaching children in the village in 2000. ‘Teaching children in someone’s house is difficult as there are lots of distractions and I didn’t have as many learning materials to help me teach. When I heard that the commune was looking for somewhere to build a permanent school, I was more than happy to give up my land as I know how important early child development is,’ says Ms. Sokhom.

©UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Rowena Campbell
A girl learns to count by drawing pictures

The Community Preschool, funded by UNICEF and IKEA, was built in 2005 and pre-school children from the village come to learn and play for two hours every morning, five days a week. They learn how to interact with one another and about honesty, sharing and perseverance as well as numbers, letters and words. Once children turn six they go to the primary school. ‘I have big dreams for all the children I teach. I want them all to continue their studies and I hope they will all go on to a higher education and then on to get a bachelor degree.’ Her hopes are not impossible as the children who pass through her pre-school don’t drop out of primary school and are the ones who learn the most.

©UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Rowena Campbell
Ms. Sokham teaches numbers

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