Another chance: how CCF’s grannies seize an opportunity for further learning

“When I was young, my parents were really poor and I had to work hard to support them. I couldn’t go to school. In fact my parents didn’t want me to be literate, because they were worried I might write love letters to men! Now teacher Hoin and Scott Neeson have given me this chance to study. I’m really happy and now I come to school every day, it doesn’t matter if I get things right or wrong.”

This is Tor Sang, one of our beloved grannies, talking to national news channel BTV. As heartbreaking as her story is, she tells it with a huge smile. She’s one of many grannies who have signed up for our newest initiative – education for adults and older people.

Why have we started providing education to older people? Part of the answer lies in our early days. One of the things that most lingered with Scott when he began meeting children scavenging on the old garbage dump was that they usually didn’t ask for money or food – though they clearly needed both. They asked “som tov rien” – please take me to study. That kind of plea is hard to refuse.

But how did such young children come to realise the value of education? It was because their parents and grandparents were denied education in their youth, and they witnessed first hand the bleak poverty and lack of opportunities that came about as a result.

So when some of these grannies and adults, amazed at the progress of the children in our community, began asking if there might be similar opportunities for them, we knew we had to try and offer them. Out of this our new literacy and computer classes were born.

For those of you who don’t understand Khmer, here’s a short summary of the news story. As well as Granny Tor Sang, Granny Tes Rem is interviewed, saying that she wants to have the same knowledge as the CCF students around her, so that she can read books and news. Teacher Leng observes that teaching old people can be easier than teaching kids, since they are more attentive.

The news piece then features our computer classes for adults. Oak Somart says that he never got the chance to learn, but now that technology is everywhere he wants to be able to understand and use it. Our community outreach leader Hoin is then interviewed, and says that the program was created because so many people asked for it.

Our initial pilot will run for 3 months, with classes every day. If it is a success – and it shows every sign of being one – CCF will create a long term adult education program, meaning that our kids and our community can learn and grow together for the first time.

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