Kok Tnoth, Cambodia
My Future Learning Space
My Future Learning Space has been inspired by the TWB initiative 'Educating Girls'. The Educating Girls syllabus highlights the inequality of females in developing countries. It emphasises the need to educate girls;
"The positive impact of educating girls is indisputable. Educated girls are 50% more likely to immunize
their children in the future. A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5.
And with an extra year of education, a girl can earn up to 20% more as an adult."
TWB, Girls' Education Home Page. Retrieved from: https://teacherswithoutborders.org/girls-education/
In order to achieve this, TWB along with UNICEF and the World Organisation for Health, recognise the fundamental need to implement clean water, sanitation, hygiene and health. Not only is this a basic human right, but it also one of the foremost barriers preventing the education of girls in impoverished, underdeveloped countries. On the 28th July, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly "explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights."
United Nations General Assembly, July 2010 Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/human_right_to_water.shtml
Evidence of the importance of clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and its implications on education is well documented.
"Unsafe water, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene also contribute to child mortality and morbidity."
UNICEF: The State of the World's Children, 2008
• Every three minutes, one child dies of diarrhea-related illnesses.
• Tuberculosis, which was once considered obliterated, still exists. 120,000 children die of tuberculosis each year.
• 88 million children under fifteen get schistosomiasis each year. This is caused by parasitic worms which develop in stagnant water.
• Access to safe drinking water could reduce the number of children’s deaths by 50%!Each year, 443 million schooldays are missed because of insufficient facilities, illnesses and lack of hygiene.
Humanium Organisation. We make Children's Rights happen.
"Young children are more vulnerable than any other age group to the ill effects of unsafe water, insufficient quantities of water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene."
"The simple act of hand washing can have important implications for children’s health and survival, by reducing morbidity and mortality related to diarrhoea, pneumonia and other infectious diseases."
"Lack of safe water, sanitation and adequate hygiene contribute to the leading killers of children under five, including diarrhoeal diseases, pneumonia, neonatal disorders and undernutrition."
WATER, SANITATION AND HYGIENE: ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A CHILD SURVIVAL STRATEGY
UNICEF, New York September 2006
"Educational campaigns about hygiene could reduce the number of diarrhea-related illnesses by up to 45%!"
From the Humanium Organisation. We make Children's Rights happen. https://www.humanium.org/en/world/right-to-water/
According to UNICEF, two out of three schools in the developing world lack decent toilets. The World Health Organisation estimates that 272 million school days are lost each year due to diarrhea. World health humanitarian organisations stressed "the need to provide adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and instruction for school children in the developing world."
With this in mind, I am going to develop a Future Learning Space in Kok Tnoth, an impoverished rural village in Cambodia. I'm going to incorporate the TWB initiative, Educating Girls. One of their aims is to implement sanitation and hygienic practices to reduce the number of absent days caused through illness and menstruation. I would like to extend this initiative to all of the children in Kok Tnoth, boys and girls.
Video: The Vaan Maanenberg Family sharing their Cambodian experience
My sister & her husband (Heidi & Dave) through their organisation 'B.Yoga' and in conjunction with the 'Cambodia Clean Water and Toilet Project', Sien Reap, raise money and awareness, and travel to Cambodia numerous times a year to install water wells, pumps and build toilets. Heidi is also passionate about female health issues; especially young girls who reach puberty. When I approached her about my FLS she began to educate me about the level of poverty the children of Kok Tnoth endure.
"They have nothing. They do not have clean water, they have no toilets and they don't have access to items to implement hygiene. They defecate anywhere - they have no choice. They cannot relieve themselves in the jungle as there are landmines. Their waste mixes in with their already dirty water supply and the filthy environment harbours diseases. As a result, the children are always suffering from some sort of diarrhea, and small cuts become infected and develop into chronic medical conditions. It is not until these things have been overcome that we can start to think of education. Providing clean water and teaching them about hygiene will be the beginning. It is the first step to empowering them with a path out of poverty."
Heidi Vaan Mannenberg, 2017
Due to the lack of clean water, no sanitation and the appalling lack of hygiene, the children of Kok Tnuth suffer constantly from avoidable and treatable diseases. They are not intentionally unsanitary; they have never been exposed, shown or educated about hygiene and the importance of implementing it to stay healthy. Combined with the lack of school attendance due to illness [hence, no education] these children have no bright futures and are condemned to a life of poverty.
The enormity of educating and assisting the impoverished children in Cambodia is overwhelming. The Khmer Rouge created a dysfunctional population. A nation's culture, religion, music, stories and educated were eradicated in a few short years. As a result, the surviving inhabitants, the majority being children and peasant farmers who had never been given access to education, developed into a population with no skills, an understanding steeped in superstition and the basic instinct to survive.
How can I develop a Learning Space within such an environment?
The need for child friendly, visually stimulating, hygiene posters was discussed.
"The posters we have at the moment are very clinical and have too much writing on them. They do not attract the children's attention and if they do, they are unable to read the instructions. We need kid friendly posters that 'show' them what to do. We want them to be stimulating and fun; something that will remind and encourage the children to wash their hands and implement hygienic practises into their daily lives."
Heidi Vaan Maanenberg, 2017
Incorporating everything I have researched and learnt, I have decided to develop a Future Learning Space for the children of Kok Tnoth by creating a set of child friendly posters illustrating hygienic practices. I also want to further develop this idea by creating a fun, creative, inspiring, reinforcing ,visually stimulating and educational resource. I'm going to create a set of 'Memory/Snap' playing cards that will enable the children to learn about hygiene through play.
"Play is the natural way young children learn. Even when it looks like preschoolers are just playing, their brains are hard at work putting together vital knowledge about the world."
The Australian Parenting Website. Link: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/preschooler_play_and_cognitive_development.html
Children learn best through play. It develops their social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. It facilitates thinking, creativity, imagination, exploration, problem solving and learning. It is vital for the cognItive development of every child's brain.
I will integrate my FLS with the Personal Learning Space. The Learning Space is a space that enables you to learn best. The Personal Space can be as diverse as the uniqueness of each person who inhabits one. It is the place where you are motivated to learn, where you are in control of your learning and where you can reflect and learn at your own pace. The Personal Space applies perfectly to my Future Learning Space. It has no restrictions, which ironically is in direct conflict with the educational environment of the children who live in Kuk Tnoth. By educating them about hygiene, their personal space is growing through health, self-esteem and personal awareness.
These children have no physical luxuries and I doubt their sensory, visual or health conditions offer positive learning environments. They have no choice but to learn in the physical personal space they are situated in. This does not matter; it is their environment and within their community; it is their home. But the offer of visual instruction through play, will enable them to learn and apply hygienic practices enabling them to begin their own personal journey toward an education and an opportunity to break the poverty cycle.
Developing my Resource
It was one thing to say that I'd create cards for a memory/snap game, but it was another getting it organised.
I decided to use cartoon images for the cards. Cartoon's stimulate fun, imagination and creativity.
Choosing the appropriate cartoons was difficult. I had to be aware of the cartoons subject; for example, I found some great images of boys and girls washing hands, cleaning teeth etc, but they were blue eyed, blonde haired children. I want the children to be happy and proud of their Cambodian appearance, so these cartoon images were not appropriate for my resource.
I also had to be aware of copyright issues. This led me to paying sites, which was fine, and I managed to purchase images that suited my purpose.
Step 2: Research how many different images I needed to accommodate for a snap and memory card game. I eventually decided on a number of 52 cards, with 4 cards of each image. Total - 13 images for the back of the cards and 1 for the front.
Step 3: Research and find a printing company who would be able to make the cards for me. I found one in China. I then proceeded to spend hours re-sizing, uploading and organising card designs, measurements and templates.
Step 5: Completed my creative journey, saved my project and proceeded to order and pay. Ten sets of cards were ordered. Each set has the capability to be split into two sets.
These images are also the cartoons chosen for the flyers. Each image has a Khmer word accompanying it. I had to screenshot and attach these words as Khmer is written in symbols rather than letters. Five flyers of each image was made. These will be displayed in the newly erected Community Centre and around wash facilities in Kok Tnoth.
Gallery of images for the cards.
My game cards arrived on the 20th October, 2017. I delivered them, along with the flyers, to Heidi and Dave.
Video: Assessing the FLS Resources
This has been an enlightening, eye-opening and inspiring experience. We take so much for granted, while so many others in the world live in, and with, such appalling conditions. If my resources can make an impact on even one child's life, then my mission has been achieved.
The founder of the Cambodian Clean Water and Toilet Project, Darrel Steer, will be arriving in Australia on Friday 26th October 2017, to attend and volunteer at the "Pop-up Curry Restaurant" being held at the Euroa rural show on the 27th October. They expect to serve 300-400 curry meals and raise enough money for another 40 toilets. Darrel will be taking my flyers and playing cards back to Cambodia and will use them to educate the children about hygiene.
Post Script: I forwarded the details of the Mobile Schools to the Cambodian Clean Water and Toilet Project and B Yoga. They are very interested in this concept and will contact the organisation to investigate an implementation of a unit/program into rural Cambodia. The Future Learning Space continues to evolve! My Blog will keep you updated.