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  • Writer's pictureSovanpidor Ham

Shedding Light on ICT in Cambodian High Schools

Updated: May 22, 2023

Published on Jun 26, 2019

In a concrete room, thirty-five students in blue and white school uniforms sit, their eyes glued to computer screens, and their hands gliding across tabletops, manipulating the mouse. This is the typical scene at the Computer Lab of New Generational School at Preah Sisowath High School. One of the students, Muon, a seventh grader, momentarily diverts her attention from the computer screen to express her fondness for the class, stating that the computer lab is her favorite.

Another student, Vatey, a sixth grader who is new to the school, expresses her admiration for the computer lab. She confides in me, saying that she feels she is in good hands at this school. After being introduced to her new learning environment, she is amazed and excited about the prospect of learning how to code. She explains that while she had computer classes at her previous school, they were nowhere near as enjoyable and fascinating as the ones offered here. At her previous school, she only learned basic academic functions like Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. However, she is eager to explore more advanced topics such as website building, game development, app creation, robot programming, and more, which will be available to her at this school.

The excitement that Vatey experiences in learning advanced computer subjects is not limited to her alone, nor is it limited to the thirty-five students in this computer lab. Young people throughout Cambodia share a keen interest in information technology. While this type of training has not traditionally been widely available in the country, that is now starting to change.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) has developed an Information and Communication Technology Education Plan and has integrated it into the national curriculum for students from grade 4 to grade 12. In the first phase of the program, MoEYS has partnered with Kampuchea Action for Primary Education (KAPE) and InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia to pilot a computer training curriculum for students in grade 7 to grade 11 at four NGS schools. NGS Preah Sisowath High School began implementing the curriculum in October 2018, while the other three high schools (Prek Leap, Prek Anhjanh, and Kampong Cham High School) started in mid-October 2018.

InSTEDD, who is in charge of building the curriculum, has adopted lessons from, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented youth. To ensure the sustainability of the entire program, the core team focuses on Training of Trainers (TOT) from the four NGS schools. These trainers will then pass on the knowledge to more students, allowing the positive impact to be expanded on a larger scale in the long term.

"The participation of InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia has taken the Information Technology curriculum to a whole new level," said Chim Chanda, a computer instructor at Preah Sisowath High School. According to Chanda, the new curriculum adopted from by InSTEDD is helping students broaden their problem-solving skills and allowing for creativity as they create websites and games, among other things.

Currently, as of June 2019, there are 12 teachers, like Chanda, who are undergoing intensive IT training from the InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia team to better ensure a high-quality technical education for the 2,431 students attending the 4 NGS schools.

Although the Training to Teacher (TOT) program was successfully completed in early April, the impact of the program continues to grow, as mentioned earlier, through the firsthand knowledge passed on by the teachers who attended the TOT to their students. Students are now independently working on their own programming, building apps, websites, and games, which will be showcased in the upcoming Parent Night Show.

On top of that, some of the computer creations by NGS students have already been showcased in several ICT events, such as the 5th STEM Festival in Phnom Penh held in February 2019. "This is a positive outcome that the students have achieved, and I am confident that there is more to come in the future," said Chanda.



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