Pheat is a Multi Lingual Education teacher at Vong Vai Primary School in Ratanak Kiri. She is a former student of the same project, and was only able to receive an education herself as a child thanks to CARE’s interventions.
Pheat’s story in her own words:
I have an older sister, two older brothers and a younger sister. I’m the only teacher, all the others work on the farm. Of all my siblings, I earn the most money for the family. Maybe the older ones wish in their thoughts that they had a job like me but they wouldn’t be able to because they only did Grade 1 or 2. My older siblings didn’t get a proper education because it was before CARE came. Their teacher came from outside the village and didn’t speak Kreung so it made them not want to go to school. I’m happy that I’ve studied and can work and contribute to my family, but at the same time it makes me a bit sad because it’s a lot of responsibility.
My house is a long way from the school, but I was able to keep going because CARE gave me a bike. When I was in Grade 7 it was getting too hard and I almost gave up. But then I heard that CARE might give me a bike and it motivated me to study really hard and very soon I got one. I used it until I finished school, and then my sister used the same bike to get to school, and then our niece after that. Our niece is 15 years old now and she’s in Grade 9. She wants to be a police officer or a teacher.
I did multilingual classes from Grades 1 to 3 and then did school in Khmer from Grades 4 to 9, then I applied to be a teacher. I wanted to be a teacher because I was inspired by my own teacher and I wanted to come back and teach in my community. I’ve been a teacher at this school for six years, four of those years I’ve been teaching multilingual classes. I was hired to be a multilingual teacher because I am Kreung and I know how to read and write in my language because I did multilingual classes myself as a child. If it weren’t for that I wouldn’t have learnt as much about my culture and I wouldn’t be a teacher today.
When I was recruited to be a multilingual teacher, I was supported by CARE. I did training with CARE five days a week every three weeks for a year. In the training we learnt how to do lesson plans, how to teach in both languages and we improved our reading and writing in our mother tongue. Now I use what I learnt in the CARE training in my teaching.
The best thing about being a multilingual teacher is the books and posters and other resources [produced by CARE]. They’re in our language and they’re relevant to our daily activities in our villages. The other good thing is that I’m strengthening my own knowledge of my language.
In my class there is a mix or Khmer and Indigenous children, but mostly Indigenous. I hope all my students graduate and get jobs. They might be able to be teachers. These opportunities won’t be available to children who didn’t go to school.
People in the community have changed their opinion of education. Parents don’t make their kids do as much work in the fields any more. They encourage their children to go to school and make sure they’re not absent. Parents value education like they never did before because now the kids can go to school and learn in their own language. Parents are much more involved in their kids’ education.
Quotes from little Pheat’s mother, Ty
I didn’t go to school because there was no school here when I was a girl. I’m happy Pheat goes to school because I want her to be educated and get a job.
It’s important for children to learn our mother tongue and learn about our culture because that’s how it will live on. Sometimes there are Kreung words that even we don’t know, for example the names of the months, and our children teach us.
It’s important that they have Kreung teachers because if they only learnt in Khmer there would be many things they wouldn’t understand. I hope Phait achieves her dream and doesn’t have to work on the farm. I’m confident Teacher Pheat has helped her.
Learn more about CARE Cambodia's efforts to empower ethnic minority girls through education >
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