A day in the life of a high school student in Cambodia
My name is Thai Kanika, 18 years old. I live in Roteang Village. I am a student in grade 12 at Jayavarman VII High School. I have been a sponsored student in the TSF project since grade 9.
Nowadays, I always get up at 5 in the morning because I must cook food for my family and then memorize the lessons. My family and I eat rice with eggs and fish which can be found locally. After that, at 6:30, I have to leave for school by trailer which takes me about 20 minutes. My house is 7 kilometers [4 miles] from school.
There are two shifts: morning and afternoon. This month I am taking the morning shift, four hours for public school, six days a week. There are a lot of students, so students are divided into separated classes. However, each class is still big with about 50 pupils.
We must get well dressed (white shirt and blue or black trousers for boys and skirt for girls). The size of my classroom is small, but beautiful with pictures and flowers. Due to the crowded class, it is difficult for teachers to assign group work; they just follow teacher-centered approach. Moreover, students do not have chance to have discussion. As a result, we do not have good critical thinking and communication skills.
There are two main classes for students to choose from, such as science and social study classes. I have been in science class since grade 10. The subjects I am studying relate more to scientific fields, like mathematics, chemistry and physics, which takes more time than other subjects. After the school ends at 11 o’clock, I have lunch packed from home with friends, sometimes in class and sometimes under trees. We talk about lessons we learned while eating. Usually we go to library after lunch break to read books and search for interesting documents. Some students don’t like to go to the library because there are few books in addition to the textbooks provided by the school.
Certainly, my school has a chemistry laboratory built by Korean charity, but it doesn’t have enough chemistry teachers. I hardly ever do experiments in the lab. There is also a computer lab next to it. I don’t have time for computer class at public school, but I have been trained in Microsoft Word and Excel at the computer school of The Sharing Foundation instead.
From 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I go to private tutoring classes [sponsored by TSF] in front of the public school with other students. I spend one hour for mathematics, one hour for chemistry, another hour for physics and the last hour for Khmer literature. This class is smaller, so it is easy for students and teachers for discussion at which students have time to talk and share ideas. I have to return home at 5 o’clock when the trailer’s driver awaits in front of the school with other students. I have a rest before going to the English class.
I go to the TSF English school in Roteang Village at 6:15 p.m. by bike, taking me ten minutes, and the class starts at 6:30. I spend one hour a day, five days a week. It is different from public school because both teacher and students speak in English which improves my skills a lot. Students have a lot of group work, pair work, presentations under teacher’s supervision. Other classmates are helpful and working hard. Students need to do homework for most of the lessons which is different from public school.
I arrive home at almost 8 o’clock. It is the time for dinner. We get together and eat dinner for 15 minutes, and then I do the washing up before watching TV for 15 minutes. No longer than this because my father doesn’t allow me to watch TV a lot. I don’t have my own bedroom, but I can spend two more hours at night to review the lessons I have learned and read the next lessons ahead. I don’t have much free time, except Sunday and national holiday. I always help my parents with house work and especially farm work that is tiring.
I really appreciate and am thankful to TSF scholarship which gives me the chance to study from junior high school. Without it, I may have left school because there are many members in my family, so my parents can’t support my study. Only my brothers can go to school. Furthermore, it helps me learn a lot. I can take this money for private class, buying school materials, and uniform. As a result, I have better grades than other students.
This scholarship doesn’t help me only, but help other students in the village. Some students from the English school got sponsored and graduated from university. They can find jobs with good salary, and their family has no difficulties anymore, but students who didn’t get scholarship, didn’t make it to university because they are poor and not qualified to go to university. They make a living by farm work as their father.
In conclusion, I am very happy of being sponsored by the Sharing Foundation that makes my life change. Thanks for sponsoring me and I promise I work hard to go to university like others. I wish you healthy, happy, lucky.
Thai Kanika is sponsored by Marge and Kanha Stockford of Portland, ME, so she can attend tutorial classes at the high school.