Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Big Picture

Global Campaign for Education (GCE) Action Week April 2012
Supported by
Education International (EI)
Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO)

In our 2012 activity plan, CITA committed to actively engage in the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) Action week April 22 to 28 in Cambodia through the delivery of three campaign related activities. These three activities were developed from the GCE Action Week Resource Pack which was circulated to all Education International (EI) members. Based on these planned activities CITA was able to secure grants valued at €1,000 from EI and €500 from the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO). In addition, we developed a local partnership with an education NGO called Krousar Yoeung which specialises in early childhood care and education as this was the theme of the GCE action week
 Campaign Overview
Each year during Global Action Week (GAW), the GCE profiles a core area of education. Millions of teachers, students and members of the public come together with civil society organisations, all advocating for the rights of children. In 2012, the core area was Early Childhood Care & Education and the campaign was called The Big Picture.
The planned local activities of CITA included three distinct but interrelated elements:
1. Campaign & Lobbying
• A case study on ECCE in Cambodia was produced by the ECCE consultant as a lobbying tool and for publication in the classroom activity pack and CITA newsletter.
• CITA translated and published the GCE policy recommendations on ECCE based on the GCE/EI resource pack.
• These documents, along with the classroom activity pack and invitations to the Big Picture Exhibition, were circulated to all key education stakeholders.
• CITA held a national press conference on ECCE that highlighted the GCE campaign on Monday 23 April.
• Selected artworks, along with CITA’s recommendations for ECCE in Cambodia, are being presented to key education stakeholders.

2. The Big Picture Children’s Art Exhibition
The Big Picture Children’s Art Exhibition was designed as the flagship activity for the GAW in Cambodia. The exhibition involved a four of stages:
• Teachers from 30 schools selected by CITA and Krousar Yoeung were provided with art toolkits including brushes, canvass and paints1
• A number of teachers attended a workshop to increase their confidence and skills in using the art toolkit.
• Each school then created two artworks that were exhibited at Willow Boutique Hotel from Monday 23 April to Wednesday 2 May. 
• The exhibition was officially opened on Tuesday 24 April with an evening event that opening included speeches from the president of CITA, teachers and most importantly, some children from the participating schools. Three artworks were auctioned on the opening night, while another three were raffled off at Willow Trivia in the Garden on Wednesday 25 April. Over 26 paintings were sold raising over $850 US which will fund further art materials for the participating schools.

1 Cambodian schools are generally lacking in resources. This is especially true in relation to art supplies. Nearly all of the participating schools had never had access to paints or canvasses before. The only art resources available to them were colouring pencils.

2 A significant number of teachers had not had any training in art education, thus a workshop was developed to introduce the concept of mixing colours, the colour wheel and developing possible art lessons using the materials supplied.

3. ECCE Classroom Activity Pack
CITA worked with an ECCE consultant to develop an ECCE Classroom Activity Pack for teachers. Each pack contained a policy brief on the GCE Campaign, case studies on ECCE in Cambodia and Ireland and four lesson plans designed on the theme of early childhood care and education. 2,000 copies of the pack were produced and have been circulated to teachers from pre-school to grade 3 through CITA’s national branch network.

World Teachers'Day 2011

A) World Teachers’ Day 2011 (REPORT)
On the morning of Wednesday 5th at 7.15 am the organisers gathered in ‘Freedom Park’ in Phnom Penh to start organising for the celebration which was to include series of speeches and march to the Ministry of Education, Prime Ministers’ Office and National Assembly to deliver CITA’s World Teachers’ Day Petition.

From 7.30am onwards participants started to arrive from various provinces, hundreds of teachers, parents and students came from eighteen different provinces across Cambodia, many groups travelling for over seven hours to make it to the event. The participation of these provincial activities was made possible thanks to donations received from, INTO, KFTA, AFT, EI and ILO. As they arrived participants were given the World Teachers’ Day 2011 polo-shirt which carried the theme for the day ‘Give a Voice to Teachers’, the polo-shirt was possible thanks to the support of the ILO.

At 8.15am the participants began to organise in the middle of ‘Freedom Park’ spreading out the banners which carried the key messages of the day in Khmer and English. Throughout this time both uniformed and plain-cloth police observed from around the park.

At 8.45am. Mr. Rong Chhun, President of CITA, delivered the opening address.

Mr. Pong-Sul Ahn, Senior Specialist on Workers’ Activities ILO Bangkok, delivered the keynote speech. The key message of his speech was the ILO calling on the government and Ministry of Education to provide teachers’ with union rights including the right to collective bargaining and participation in education policy. He referred to the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) which Cambodia has signed and called on government to fully implement these recommendations. He also called on the government to implement the recommendation made by World Bank in 2008 to raise teachers’ basic salary to $150 per month.

Ms. Seng Theary, Founder of CIVICUS spoke about the important role of teachers in society and how the future of Cambodian society requires a quality education system in which teachers’ rights are respected.

Ms. Mu Sochu, Member of the National Assembly said “They [teachers] were firm with their demands. The teachers can’t survive with the salary that they receive. They feel like they have lost their value. It is demeaning to them and it reflects the lack of investment in the education sector.”

CITA Provincial Representatives Ros Tith Malay said “my $80 monthly salary is not enough to purchase goods in the market. Our salaries are not equal to the foreign dogs you [government officials] are raising in your houses. The low salaries force us to take money from the students. We are very ashamed and sympathetic…for the students. We don’t want to do this, but we need to fill our stomachs.”

Yan Chamroeun said “The goods in the market are high, but my salary is too low, I officially earns $72 per month in my job and this is not enough to support my family so I must have other income

At 10.15am the participants then began their march towards the Ministry of Education to deliver their petition. When then reached the bottom of ‘Freedom Park’ the march was blocked by authorities who refused to allow the march continued. The insisted that only fifteen representatives of CITA could march to the Ministry of Education. After some delay a smaller group of CITA representative accompanied by press and National Assembly members continued towards the Ministry and at times there was up one hundred participants support this stage of the event.

At 11.10am the vanguard arrived at the Ministry building but was blocked from preceding to the main gate and again the authorities reduced the number of people who were allowed march to the main gate. Once at the main gate no-one from Ministry was prepared to come out and met the group or take the petition despite having been informed of the plan. After a waiting for more an hour and as more teachers arrived from ‘Freedom Park’ to support the group at the Ministry some progress was made. Eventually a senior Ministry Official took Mr. Rong Chhun inside and received the petition from him.

At 12.15pm the group now numbering approximately one hundred participants started towards the Prime Ministers’ office. Again the authority blocked the group and said that they could not continue as one group but only as two smaller groups. Upon arriving at Prime Ministers’ Office the group was meet by a senior official who spoke briefly with Mr. Rong Chhun.

At 12.45pm the group which was now numbered between two-three hundred participants marched towards the National Assembly to submit the final petition and hear support speeches from members of the Assembly.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Teachers in Kroul Kol mistreated

I am writing this blog to highlight the case of three teachers (Mr. Uy Meak, Mr. Uy Mean, Mr. Ong Chen) by Ministry for Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS). I kindly ask that you forward the information below to all your firends and request that they either send a letter of solidarity or sign the petition in support of three teachers involved in this case:

On Wednesday the 6th of April, three teachers at the Kroul Kol High School, in Chrom District of Svay Rieng Province, received letters (dated 30th March) from H.E. Mr. Im Sethy Minister of MoEYS, informing them that they had been transferred to schools over 50km from Kroul Kol High School, there was no explanation for this decision contained in the letter. This did, however, happen after the teachers involved had made four separate complaints about corruption involving the schools director and deputy director over the past 12 months.

The three teachers logged their first report of corruption in March 2010 and again in June and October of 2010 and finally in February 2011. The details of the corruption involved, the School Deputy Director faking letters and defrauding the school of some 50 million Riels between 2007 and 2010 and the School Director, faking letters and defrauding the school of some 10 million Riels in the same period.

After the teachers logged their third complaint in October 2010, the Director and Deputy Director were ordered to repay the money to the Ministry but were allowed to remain in their position. After the teachers submitted their fourth and final complaint to the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on 14th of February the Director and Deputy Directors of Kroul Kol High School were relocated because the allegations were proven to correct. Those involved in making the complaints have now received letter direct from H.E Mr. Im Sethy ordering them to be re-located to schools over 50km away without any explanation or right to appeal. 

CITA believes that these three teachers in Kroul Kol High School have demonstrated outstanding bravery and commitment to education in Cambodia. On four separate occasions they complained about corruption in their school and now that their allegation has been proven they are been punished by the Ministry through a unilateral decision relocate them to schools more than 50km away.  
CITA has already sent an official letter to the Ministry about the handling of this case and has requested that Minister revise his decision to issue the relocation order. We are also preparing a full campaign to protect the rights of these teachers.

Mr. Ouy Meak one of the three teachers said ‘We feel regret that the ministry have made this decision unfairly to transfer us to school so far away. We have a great concern about how we will manage with this great distance. We have tried to do the right thing and report the corruption and we do not understand why we should now be forced to re-locate to others schools. This is causing a great deal of stress for us and our family and we hope that ministry will reverse the decision and allow us to stay with our families and continuing working in Kroul Kol’

I hope that you can support these teachers through signing the petition  http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/teachers-kroulkolhighschool/

Monday, January 31, 2011

Four Frantic Weeks

As mentioned New Years Eve and day were great but all to quickly I was back in the CITA office and it has been the busiest four weeks since I arrived without a doubt which is great I just we can all keep the pace up. First of all CITA got a new member of staff, Kimchhoy who is the CITA project assistant/translator  started on Tuesday 4th.

As Kimchhoy is primarily  to help me make sense of things I was tad anxious of what it would be working with someone so closely. What I mean by that is that in order for both of us to do our jobs effectively I felt it would be important to discuss my ideas thoroughly with Kimchhoy so he could convey my meaning in meeting etc. Now my mind generates ideas in strange way and it is weird to share that process with someone else but what can I say we have clicked. We are very much on the same wave length and I think really understand each other in work context and I think this has been part of the reason for things getting so busy cause now I can fully engage in broader discussions thanks to Kimchhoy.

Anyway just to give a idea of the kinda things we have worked on in the last four week. In the third week we prepared and delivered a presentation for the CITA Board Meeting which was great cause in preparing we got the chance to establish our working relationship. Then we facilitated a Participatory Advocacy workshop in Kampot and finally we have completed the annual report for last year.

Also during this time Bethan from One World Action was doing a study visit, as OWA have been a major donor of CITA providing an operational grant for the past two years which is now been contributed by ATL until 2012. This was great as Bethan was able to provide both me and CITA with loads of information about wider developments in terms of funding and possible future direction and projects for CITA.

So lets see what else happened in the last four weeks:

Board Meeting
Presented Advocacy and Campaign Strategy to CITA Board
Presented Organisational Development Objectives (Based on Crystals work) to the CITA Board
Presented and amened the CITA position paper of Teachers Salaries, Terms and Conditions.

Workshop in Kampot
This was a very interesting experience so I will give it, its own entry.
No smart remarks about my sloppy handwritten especially beside Kimchhoy's great Khmer script
Project Proposals
Submitted project to National Endowment for Democracy fund
Submitted project to the May 18th Memorial Fund 

Attended Meeting with Bethan
This included a very good meeting with British Embassy about project funding the main issues affecting CITA.

Position Paper
Started Teacher Training and CPD paper

Campaigns & Advocacy
Annual Campaigns Calendar approved
Campaign to gain recognition at the Education Congress developed
Attended Chea Vichea Memorial Day
Draft standard complaint form and started database of teaches complaint cases

Somewhere in the middle of all this I also got to go to reception hosted by the British Ambassador (thanks to Bethan) and it was very interesting to see a totally different side of Phnom Penh that evening although I did talk to some very interesting people about teacher training in Cambodia.
The Business Attire requisite nearly caused me some issues until Danny offered a solution  
Needless to say that in order to do all this all the staff at CITA have been working very hard and as of last Friday it had been 12 days in a row. So this week Mr. Rong Chhun has said we are to take some time off which is prefect timing for the Chinese New Year which is this weekend, so begins the year of the rabbit.

follow the Rabbit-New Year 2010-2011

2011 is the year of rabbit hence my attempt at clever title. The New Year kicked off very quickly for me here no sooner was the new years eve alcohol leaving my system than I was going full throttle at work but more about that later. Has many of you know I am not a big fan of Christmas however I have no issues with New Years eve and this was a good one almost as good as the ESIB Alumni parties :-).

The evening kicked off when a few of us met up to have dinner. Nothing special about that you may think until I realised that our party consisted of me and  five sayra saa att (beautiful), intelligent and entertaining women.
one thorn an five roses

I was of course very happy with this ratio although I was very much the thorn among the roses. Part of the reason of the lack of male reinforcements was mainly that Dave was back in England, all the other male vol from my group were at their placement and Danny was with his family. Despite been vastly out numbered I feel I keep my end up and at the very least tried to be a gentleman in the company of the wonderful women all but one of whom where Dutch (the Dutch are good for parties)

After dinner we headed to Paddy Rice one of the three Irish pubs in Phnom Penh. This is were any semblance of decorum that I had been delicately maintaining went out the window very quickly. The decline was marked first by a couple of buckets or beer, then some champagne and the arrival of male re-enforcements in the form of Paul and √Źngran (well certainly Paul counts as male re-enforcements, Ingran on the other hand is more interested in guylove these days).

waiter there is Dutch girl on my bottle of Champagne 
 Anyway things started to spiral especially when I found a new years eve mask which gave me special powers and allowed me to become someone totally different. I still don't know where the mask came from but it survived and is now hanging on my wall as memory of great night.
It is I the Cookie monster :-)
Anyway the mask clearly had magic powers as evidenced from the following picture.......

look into my eyes....ok it wasn't that magically
Now at some point between the third bottle of Champagne and 1am and 1.30am things got a little bit harder to keep track off. I know some of us went to the Heart of Darkness and that I cycled, I also remember that Linda and I had a dreadful time finding a working ATM due to system crash and that the night or should I say morning ending very very well.

When I eventually awoke the next morning Chris, Jeljte and I heading to watch Khmer kickboxing which was probably the coolest thing I have done on New Years day in ages. It was great the fights were been staged in a large shed where the tv station was based. They started with the lightweights and worked their way up through the weight divisions. 

The only problem of course was that I hadn't brought my camera. Was really something we were the only non-khmer there and between the guy with 10 mobile phones attached to piece of ply board and the crazy music that was played during each fight it was an experience. Each round lasted three minutes and I think there were 9 rounds definitely something I will do again only next time I'll bring my camera.