Information Communication and Technology (ICT) has been out of reach for people living in remote Ratanak Kiri province including students in the Andoung Meas High School. However, recently with the building of a new computer lab, ICT has become part of the teaching curriculum in CARE Cambodia’s Know&Grow project supported by the Patsy Collins Trust Fund Initiative.
The Know and Grow project has been implemented in Ratanak Kiri since 2015 in 11 lower secondary schools(grade:7-9) which aims to strengthen the quality of education for students in the north east especially disadvantaged ethnic minority students. Technology is a significant component of the project and is being promoted as a contemporary tool to increase student learning outcomes, connect them to the world outside Ratanak Kiri and provide them with skills and knowledge to assist them in future careers.
The project has a focus on gender equality, diversity and improved life choices.
Sol Phort, a 15 year-old female student from the Thompun ethnic community stated that her village has no access to technology which means that children have no opportunity to learn nor understand about technology. When her school, Andoung Meas, received a computer lab it opened up many possibilities. She is certain that with the guidance of her ICT teacher she will be able to obtain necessary skills whilst she is studying, such as Microsoft Office and digital literacy, which will later enable her to be more competitive in the job market.
Phort elaborated further: “many young people with no ICT skills will find it difficult to find work in the future. Having the computer lab available will allow students to develop their communication skills, 21st century skills and will also increase their access to information”.
Ear Sophal, the ICT teacher in Andoung Meas high school, believes the computer lab will allow students to pursue careers in public administration, banking, data storage and management, and also online based employment. However, he further commented on the future implications of ICT in Cambodia as a whole; “the types of work in Cambodia are changing to be more technology orientated with work changing at a very fast pace”. This means that for remote students ICT is more important than ever before as students need to have the ability to learn and utilize modern technology.”
After the installment of the computer labs a case study was undertaken in order to get feedback from students as well as an ICT teacher, Mr. Ear Sophal. The students selected for the study included students from various ethnic backgrounds and ages. Amongst the students was Sol Phort (15, female) from the Thompun community, San Sokeang (13, male) a Khmer student, Clan Janwoern (17, female) from the Jarai community and Roma Ran (16, female) from the Jarai community. Interviews were conducted in order to gather information from the selected students after they had time to reflect on their school’s new computer lab. The students were arranged into 1 group of three students for the group interview with the other student an individual interview.
During the group interview all three students Janwoern, Sokeang and Ran, expressed their excitement with the installment of the computer lab. The lab would allow all students to improve their ICT skills in programs such as MS office and improve their overall digital literacy. It was commonly expressed that improved ICT skills would improve work opportunities once students have completed their studies. Jobs in banking, administration and data management for example are jobs not typically available for students living in remote areas of Ratanak Kiri, especially living within ethnic villages. Obtaining ICT skills would allow the students to be more mobile, moving out of their villages and seeking work in the city if necessary. With regards to education itself, Sokeang stated, “the computer lab will help the school develop and provide a better education to the students.” Nomara added, “having the computer lab will improve social relations in the school by enabling group activities based around ICT.” Phort, who was interviewed individually, shared the optimism of the other students. Her village has no opportunity to study ICT therefore the school receiving a computer lab allows her this possibility.
Phort elaborated further, “many young people with no ICT skills will find it difficult to find work in the future. Having the computer lab available will allow students to develop their communication skills, 21st century skills and will also increase their access to information”. She is certain that with the assistance of her ICT teacher she will be able to obtain the necessary skills whilst she is studying in the school.
Ear Sophal believes the computer lab will allow students to pursue careers. However, he further elaborated on the future implications of ICT in Cambodia as a whole. “The type and nature of work in Cambodia is changing to be more ICT orientated, work is changing. This means ICT is more important than ever before and the students need to have the ability to learn it.” On a personal note, Sophal said the computer lab will improve his ability to teach when compared to the previous year. Before the computer lab was installed in Andoung Meas, he was teaching ICT theory from a text book. Now students will be able to gain firsthand experience and practice their ICT knowledge on a computer”.
These activities are part of the Know&Grow project, which is supported by the Patsy Collins Trust Fund Initiative, Ping Y Tai and many other.