Inés Vicente-Barbero is educationalist and social worker. Having participated in our 10th Capability Program, she afterwards decided to join BOOKBRIDGE as fellow. Since September 2017, she is supporting our Cambodian learning centers in the field of education quality.
I believe in the power of education. I believe as Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. But I also believe that the higher quality we can offer in education, the more we can achieve. I use the word believe because in education you cannot expect to see the results immediately or even sometimes to see them at all. But you can believe that it will have a positive impact if you do it well and you can imagine what could happen without education or without a good education.
In my opinion it will be better that a child goes for school only for 3 years than not going at all. But it will be even better if this child can go to preschool, complete the primary school, and then access to high school and/or to other higher level studies. And it will be even better if all these teachers and schools can offer to their students a quality education.
War and destruction: the Cambodian way
To reflect together about this I would want to invite you to think and imagine. First think about what was happening in your country 40 years ago, in the late 70s: What was the political situation? Did children have the opportunity to go to school? What kind of schools? Were there universities that were promoting reflection and new theories about education? If you have reflected about these questions and you are Cambodian you may have thought about the Pol Pot regime. If you are not Cambodian I invite you now to imagine. Imagine that, instead of all you have thought of, in your country 40 years ago you were coming from a civil war. Imagine that those who arrived to have the power were killing most of teachers and educated people. Imagine that people were afraid of showing what they read or their knowledge if this was against the new government’s ideas. Imagine that children were able to go to school to learn to read and write but their critical thinking and other skills were not trained. And imagine that after four years or more living this way your country still stayed 20 years under war situations, occupation and a lot of instability and fear.
Can you imagine how different generations could be affected but this lack of qualified education? Can you imagine how different your education and your country could be? So if you can imagine this just a little bit, you can begin, only begin, to understand how the education has been affected in Cambodia by this part of its history.
Luckily nowadays there are many people in this country that already have had the opportunity to access to a better education and that are willing to learn in order to improve quality in education. And here is the point where qualified fellows or interns can be really helpful in Cambodia and in BOOKBRIDGE.
Improving the quality in education
And that’s why one of my goals as BOOKBRIDGE fellow is to improve the quality in education. During these first months I have been focused on producing new materials for preschool and young learners, helping to create and write the curriculum for preschool, helping to develop the child protection policy (as I explained in my last blog post), searching apps that can help children to improve their learning, helping to create an activity bank for all BOOKBRIDGE Learning Centers, showing new games and methodologies, improve the use of the library, etc.
Participation and ownership
All this sounds great but it can become into nothing if we don’t think about sustainability. One question that has been in my mind from the beginning is: what will happen with all this when I leave? And the answer for it has been: participation and ownership. I have been always looking for ways that teachers and Community Heroes stay involved in what I have been doing. Sometimes it has been trying to find ways so they could participate in the processes, sometimes giving answers to their needs and requirements, and sometimes trying to motivate them to love a new idea. This has been translated into trainings most of the times. I have been offering trainings during class hours putting into practice different tools and methodologies and trainings during extra hours to discuss, reflect and create together.
I hope that all together can be helpful and creates positive impact to improve the quality in education. It will take time, I won’t see most of the results but that’s why I will keep saying that I believe in the power of education!