Last Friday we received some great news from Canada or more specifically, the Rotary Club of Calgary Downtown. Yes that’s right, the good people of Calgary also have a downtown club. They have approved funding for the coming 12 months for our mobile library project operating in 6 state run preschools in the Pursat province.
We have been talking about this project over the past 12 months and have done an initial pilot program last year and managed to import close to 150 kgs of books from Australia and Japan to get it started. What we didn’t have, until now, is the funds to advance this to where we wanted to go.
“So how does the mobile library project work?”
Glad you asked. First, we looked at a library for a preschool and realised that the cost would be large and without a librarian, it would be difficult to maintain. We then come up with the idea of a mobile library where we rotate the same amount of books through 6 preschools with the following advantages;
- Books that would originally only cover 1 school can now cover 6 by rotating the books through them. In schools that have more than one class, the books will be shared among the classes.
- Any books that are damaged can be found and repaired on a monthly basis.
- Constant feedback from the children on what they do and don’t like can be used to fine tune what we offer.
Sounds great right? Well we didn’t stop there, we also wanted to help with more than just books to read and so decided to include a toy library in our mobile library. Not only can the children learn practical skills through play such as how to hold and control a pen or pencil, but they can also learn the basics of problem solving and other cognitive skills. These are very important at an early age and can greatly assist in the future development of the child. This will have all of the benefits included in the book library.
Finally we tried to consider how we can have a long lasting affect in Cambodia. We have covered educational advancements for the children but what else can we include? In addition to the mobile book library we are conduction workshops, adding games and creating resources for the teachers. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, we have started to translate the government curriculum and will start to enter lesson plans into the mobile library boxes each month to help the teachers with ideas. Benefits of added lesson plans include:
- Feedback from a larger group of teachers allows us to adapt materials to Khmer culture.
- Specific feedback from 14 different teachers, (some schools have principals and more than one class), will provide ideas to implement. In other words, there is in effect, a support network of teachers that can share their ideas and experience with the rest of the community.
- Lessons can be shared and promoted through our website as a free resource with all preschools in Cambodia as it will follow the government curriculum.
The teachers will all undergo a workshop with followup classes to train them on story telling. Anyone can read a book for sure but being able to tell a story is a skill that needs to be learnt. Giving books is only half of the equation with the other half being the ability to utilise them to their maximum potential and that is exactly what we are planning to do.
And so that is it. We will still continue to run Tuk Tuk Theatre as always and are really excited to begin working with Manon, Kurt and the team at Rotary Club of Calgary Downtown over the next 12 months.
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