“Using a microscope I can see things that we have never seen before as a reality in front of us; I have only ever studied from books. Learning using a microscope will change what I want in the future.”
These are the words of an 8th grader from a Lower Secondary School in a remote area of Cambodia who was one of the first to test out new science equipment being provided to his school. He was one of a number of students to join school directors and officials from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport as the microscopes—donated by the Ping Y Tai Foundation and a number of private donors from the Seattle area in the USA—were handed over to schools last week.
“In Cambodia, many students of the so-called STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) learn only through books, because the teachers do not have the equipment to make these difficult subjects accessible to the students,” said CARE Program Director Jan Noorlander at the handover. “That makes it hard for teachers to keep the students interested and motivated.”
There was certainly motivation and enthusiasm among the students testing out the microscopes alongside their teachers. Vy*, a girl in Grade 8 at a local school, beamed with excitement as she spoke about using the new equipment. “These microscopes make me more interested in science subjects and I look forward to being able to do practical experiments and understand the concepts better. What makes me excited is that I see how we can use microscopes to learn about tiny things in a totally different way to before.”
School Director Mr Sophen gave an example of how these will be used in daily lessons. “In practice, blood analysis using a microscope gives us an understanding of how cells are composed, what colors they have. Previously, students used to see pictures of this only. Now, students will have a chance to apply the lessons so they are more engaged in the subject.”
Within just a few short hours, the microscopes are already achieving one of CARE’s main goals for education in this remote province: encouraging young people, especially girls, to think differently about the career options available to them. “Learning with a microscope changes what I want in the future,” asserts Vy.
As Mr Sophen concluded: “Having microscopes for science subjects encourages girls to be interested in biology and they are keen to consider careers which people traditionally think are for boys.”
*Names have been changed to protect identities.