The Microsoft Innovative Teachers' Regional conference in Cambodia was a very interesting experience. The conference was a great opportunity to mix with teachers from other countries and share experiences. It was amazing how many areas of commonality we had. It was also interesting to see how advanced New Zealand is in terms of ICT use in classrooms.
I only visited one school in Cambodia but it was an unusual one. The school was floating on a barge on a lake (Tonle Sap) and the pupils mainly came from the floating village on the lake. They even had a floating basketball court and floating playground. Most of the pupils only attended school for half a day so they could work the rest of the time.
Education is free in Cambodia but only very basic facilities and equipment are provided. The teacher's desk was dominated by a large donation box and all the desks were inscribed with the name of the person who donated them. They had a blackboard, maps on the wall, a few teacher textbooks and a few exercise books but very little else. There was no electricity and certainly no technology. The students were all very friendly.
Teachers earn about $US40-50 per month but the Cambodian government has promised to increase this amount by 15% p.a. and has committed a large amount of its budget to education.
My time in Cambodia was certainly very educational, for both the conference and the experience of the country itself. It is not somewhere to which I would like to return, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to visit.
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