This year we have a record number of students in High School – twenty-three. And for the first time we have more in high school than primary school which comes in a close 2nd with twenty-two – coming in 3rd is our preschool with a measly 3 students.
This year school was off to a very late start. In order to crack down on the cheating on final exams for the 12th grade, the class of 2014 was not able to bribe or cheat on the exams…the results being, country wide, only 25% of the students passed the exams. A second exam was offered in October to all 12th graders who did not pass the first time around. But out of those, only 18% passed.
This is a result of a couple reason, first of all being that everyone thought they would be able to bribe a teacher on test day. A hundred dollars goes far here, but in the rural areas you can probably get a passing grade for as low as $40 if the teacher likes you. It was rumored before the first exam that there would be no cheating or bribing, but they have said that in the past…so the threat was not really taken seriously.
With the 2nd exams planned for October, this pushed the 2014-2015 school year back to starting in November. This wouldn’t be such a problem except that the annual water festival which signals the end of the rainy season, falls the first week of November. Theoretically it is a 3 day festival, but realistically the holiday lasts a week, SO our kids went to school one day, out for 3, back for a ½ day, out for 2 more. It was getting downright frustrating. Not only for the kids, but for Wayne and I. After 4 months of summer break with 50 kids home all day, we were looking forward to talking over a QUIET breakfast and drinking our coffee by the newly installed fountain outside the café without any interruptions.
When school supposedly started we would no more than relax and then we would see a couple kids walking back home..then a few more…then all of them! Swinging their backpacks and skipping home stating “teacher said school finish”. Finally on Wednesday, November 12 (a day I will always remember!) the children had their first full day of school. It was so quiet with only 3 preschoolers around. Rortana, who at the ripe age of 5 is now the ‘oldest’ in the mornings, proceeded to wash all our breakfast dishes – by choice. Me, Wayne, and Luisa let little Cinderella take charge of the café while we sat back and discussed any issues at hand.
Since school has officially started, here are our first day of school photo’s.
Newcomer Ms. Srey Nuet, who’s been with us for 2 months:
The onery bunch! I feel for their teacher!
Saoun, Virak, Wey, Srey Nee, Srey Ti and Srey Nith.
After 3 years alone, Mr. Rith and Miss Kunthea are joined this year by newcomer Srey Mahrk who came to live with us 3 weeks ago.
This class is a bit mismatched and by the photo seems like the girls are in control!
Channy, Srey Moav, Nak, Pauliep (who joined us 6 months ago),Hua, Chay and Touri.
I didn’t realize it until I snapped the photo that Mr. Somnang is the only boy in this class. He doesn’t seem to mind, though 🙂
Venot, Somnang, Srey Pov, newcomer Ms. Katha (who joined us 1 month ago), the unstoppable TyMeng and Srey Nak.
Of course the high schoolers are too cool for school photo’s, but the breakdown is as follows:
Class 7 – a whopping 7 students
Class 8 – 3 students
Class 9 – 2 students
Class 10 – 4 students
Class 12 – 7 students (we are looking at some major University expense next year!)
Thank you all who continue to support us in funding their education. We can confidently say that 90% of these children would not have made it to high school, and a vast majority would not have even made it to the 6th grade – especially our girls. Our 3 newcomers are all in grades much lower than they should be for the sheer fact that they either did not go to school before coming or their previous school attendance was so sporadic that academically they are not at the level they should be.
As with our large number of high schoolers, the number of girls who live here has gone up as well. In December 2013 we had 16 girls and 32 boys, but as of now, we have 21 girls and 29 boys.
Look out boys; it won’t be long until you are outnumbered!
Thanks for stopping in!
The Wat Opotians