Tag - High school

Libraries a brilliant learning resource


Library / by: LIFT magazine

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go,” said Dr. Seuss, an American writer and cartoonist best known for his collection of children’s books.  The poem I Can Read with My Eyes Shut was intended to demonstrate the benefits of reading.

The poem may not resonate that much in Cambodia, where reading rates are low compared to foreign averages – especially those of Americans, who always seem to travel with a book in hand. Laziness and illiteracy are often offered as explanations for the lack of a strong reading culture here.

But from my perspective, as a Cambodian who has lived in this country for almost 20 years, I figure the resources and opportunities afforded the average Cambodian may also have something to do with it.

Libraries are usually considered vast reservoirs of written knowledge, but how many Cambodians can truly access this invaluable resource?

In this article, we’ll discuss reasons preventing and discouraging Cambodian students from accessing libraries.

The first, and most important, reason is that the number of libraries in the Kingdom cannot fulfil the public’s demand.

Those living in remote areas don’t even have libraries in their village schools.

According to the website of Working for Children (WFC), a registered, non-profit charity committed to assisting at-risk children living in rural communities within Siem Reap province, “Most of the rural village schools need libraries. Some schools create makeshift libraries out of an unused classroom, while others keep books in boxes or bags.”

The website also notes that this problem often occurs in recently built schools that need to develop more.

Clearly, schools without a library need one.  Even school with libraries rarely have librarians, often because they  have only a handful of teachers as it is.

A primary school in my home town has been able to build a nice library with government and NGO support, but students hardly have a chance to access it because the door is usually locked.

The school has hired no librarians and the teachers are all busy, so the school director is forced to act as librarian when he gets a free moment, which is not often.

Having a teacher or school director working as librarian creates another barrier to accessing the library.  As they already bear a responsibility to teach or manage the school, they may not want the students to read or borrow books because this creates more work –– sorting, lending and shelving – for them.

Librarians’ knowledge and attitude are also important. They should be friendly and eager to help students find the documents they need.

The opposite was true when I was in high school.  I used to be scolded just for asking whether the library had a particular book.

Libraries should also update their documents regularly.  This is not a huge issue for primary or high-school students, but students in university must be able to access the latest readings for their research.

In some libraries, most of the books are outdated because most are donated by foreign countries and little money is spent on buying new books.  In a bookshop, study materials are always updated because patrons are spending money on them.

Opening hours can also be a limiting factor for student library access.  Though some libraries have begun extending librarians’ working hours to attract more readers, others maintain a schedule that conflicts with the students’ classes.  So, for example, libraries will shut their doors during lunch breaks and at weekends – the times when students are free to use them.

Some students also complain about regulations requiring them to wear uniforms whenever they enter the library.  This poses the question: which is more important, wearing a uniform or gaining knowledge?

Some people go out for the day without planning to go to the library, but if in their free time they suddenly want to go, they will be denied access for lack of a uniform.

Comfort is also essential, and if a library intends to attract patrons, it should, at the very least, have a place where students can sit comfortably, with good lighting and no   distracting noise.

LIFT interviewed Dr Ros Chantrabot, a writer as well as acting vice-president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, about Cambodian literature and literacy.

“I don’t think Cambodian youth do not appreciate reading.  The main point is that Cambodians don’t have enough reading resources.”

I think it will take time to change the reading habits of the average Cambodian.

Based on what Ros Chantrabot said, I’d say the first step is to extend the availability of resources by building more school libraries, and improving the facilities of those already in existence.

By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was published on LIFT, Issue 76 published on June 22, 2011

You can’t copy thinking

What is the best way to guarantee that you get good grades? If you are reading this magazine, you know the answer is hard work, but for too many of the country’s student the answer is cheating.

Although a culture of cheating is more pervasive in high school than it is at the country’s universities, many students bring their habit of cheating with them when they make the transition to college.

Cheating at university not only makes students’ higher education worthless, it reflects poorly on professors and administrators who can’t control their classes, and it is frustrating for students who are studying hard for tests and exams.

Rather than accept cheating as an unavoidable occurrence, many universities in the Kingdom are working to eliminate cheating from their classes altogether.

Ban Thero, the vice-chancellor at Cambodian Mekong University, said cheating happened regardless of how hard teachers tried to stop it, but that it can be cut down.

“Everywhere is the same. It’s not only Cambodian students who try to cheat. If there is chance to cheat, they will cheat,” said Ban Thero.

“At examinations at CMU, we don’t allow students to use telephones or other tools that can store information during the exam, and we don’t allow students to borrow pens or pencils from each other.”

The Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL) has long been known among students as one of the most strict universities when it comes to examinations, which helps explain why their graduates speak their chosen language with such fluency.

Khan Bophan, the bachelor’s programmes coordinator at IFL, said Cambodian students graduating from high school had a habit of cheating during exams, so IFL made sure that these habits are broken before they enter the university by making the students pass a closely supervised entrance exam before the school year begins.

After that, if you can’t speak, read and write the language, you can’t pass the classes and students soon realise that cheating is no help.

“Students are under close supervision from two examiners. No paper is allowed on the desk. There is a wide space between each student. They are not allowed to pick up a call. They are not allowed out of the room. These are the main rules to ensure that there is no cheating at IFL,” said Khan Bophan. “We also shuffle teachers around, which means that people who teach a particular class do not check that class.”

According to a formal letter sent to all students at IFL, there are strict penalties for students caught cheating. The first time cheating results in a 20 percent deduction, second is 50 percent and the third time gets a 100 percent deduction.

When asked whether the strict rules, which may result in lower GPAs, will make it harder for student to get a job upon graduation, Khan Bophan said this should not be a concern, since transcripts alone do not get you a job. You have to pass multiple interviews, as well, and that is where students who have had to work for their grades will prevail.

by: Dara Saoyuth

This article was published on Lift, Issue 35, September 08, 2010

What’s gonna happen in Cambodian National Exam this year?

Flag of Cambodia set to the shape of the country.

Image via Wikipedia

This year National Examination will start from 26th-28th July with about 100,000 students and about 191 places will be used as exam centers across the countries, according to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport report.

To prevent irregularities during the exam, Touch Naroth, the Phnom Penh Municipal police chief, said this year will be the same as previous years that he will put his police force to guard exam centers depend on the request of the Ministry of Education.

Despite having police officers guard all the exam centers, every year, many people especially those from non-governmental organizations and students always talked and shared their concerns about irregularities happening during the exam.

Rong Chhun, the president of the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association (CITA), claimed to see students bribed inspectors to let them open documents and use telephone during the exam last year.

He said if they allow this situation to be continued in Cambodia, it will affect to the educational quality and they cannot produce the real human resource. “Weakness in Educational System cannot help developing our country,” he said.

Rong Chhun said he forecasted that this year examination is neither different nor better than the previous year exam since he has received information from some provinces and some parts in the city saying that teachers are planning to collect money at about 10000Riels (about $2.5) per subject while the exam doesn’t start yet.

Rong Chhun explained the reason for the irregularities resulted from the practices of the ministry is still weak and the head of the Ministry receive benefit from this exam.

A grade-12 student from Chea Sim Samarki High School and also a candidate for the upcoming exam, agreed that cheating happens.

He said none of student knows everything; at least they are still lacking some points, so they have to fulfill these parts by cheating. He continued that there are 10 subjects for him to focus on and it’s difficult to be good at all of them.

The student said he is not the best student but he always gets good grades in class, so he has enough ability for the exam. “If it is strict during the exam, it will be easy for me,” he said. “When it is not strict in class, it always affects me because other friends around me drag my paper untidily,” he continued.

Rong Chhun urged students to trust in themselves for the forthcoming exam. “We will have enough abilities to compete for the job opportunities providing that we pass because of our own capacities,” he said. He continued that parents must trust in their children, and the Ministry of Education must determine to make the exam process better so that we can get better quality for the country.

Note: Result for National Examination for Grade 12 will be announced on 20 August 2010 at noon for Phnom Penh, Kandal province and will be on 21 August 2010 for other provinces.

Written by: Dara Saoyuth