Happy first week of school! Yup that’s right, we just started school in the middle of November! Last year school started early October, but this year there were a few problems. We have a new minister of education, who has decided to crack down to try to improve schools, which is great! But of course these things don’t always run smoothly. All 12th graders in Cambodia have to take a test at the end of the year to graduate. If you fail, you don’t graduate. Unfortunately cheating has been rampant in this test. Cheating is a huge problem here, especially for this test. Students would bribe teachers to give them answers, bring their phones in to google answers and blatantly copy off each other. Well after a few years of empty threats, the ministry decided to crack down this year and not allow cheating. They did a great job monitoring! There were police officers, phones were confiscated, monitors walked around watching the proctors. I had my doubts that they would actually stop cheating, but they did it! I was so proud. Everything seemed great, until the results came in.
Only 25% of all of the students in Cambodia passed. That meant that 75% of the 12th graders wouldn’t graduate. Obviously that wasn’t okay, so they decided they would give the students who failed another chance to take the exam in early October, and the school year would be pushed back to November. Unfortunately only another 20% passed. 55% of the students will either drop out, or have to retake 12th grade. I’m so proud of the ministry for doing something about the corruption, and doing something to improve the educational system, but my heart is also breaking for these 12th graders. It really sucks for them. They had to crack down, but it always stinks for the group they had to crack down on.
With this extra break, I’ve had a ton of free time. I started teaching more private classes. I really enjoy teaching the private classes because I can teach whatever I want. We do a lot of fun stuff like playing games, listening to American music and watching movies. It is also awesome because the students are bright, and they actually want to be there. I don’t have to beg them to participate. They come because they want to learn! I love it. But one of the downsides is that it can be hard to teach by myself. Especially with my 10th graders! My Khmer isn’t good enough to explain everything, and their English often isn’t good enough to understand my explanations.
I’ve also been pretty busy getting ready for the school year, and working on big projects. I am going to do a big environmental project at my school that involves new trash cans, a workshop for 70 kids and an environmental club. And of course I’ve been spending lots of time with our new puppies and my adorable nephew!
I’s starting to get excited for this new school year. It is nice knowing some of my students and feeling more confident. I know what projects I want to accomplish this year and am ready to do them! Its crazy to think that I only have 9 more months here. I can’t believe it!
And lastly, I was going to put a ton of pictures of the last few months up, but naturally all of them except one are giving me error messages. So here’s a selfie of Soohong and I! I’ve never met a baby who likes to take as selfies as much as he does!