It’s been an incredibly hectic few weeks at BEA before the start of the 2013-14 school year! Shally, BEA' managing director, handled our big move with true finesse. He's truly a man of all talents from plumber to carpenter to electrician. In addition, he also renewed BEA's accreditation and submitted all of our certificates to the Ministry of Education for signing. As for myself, I've been drowning in the usual paperwork dealing with all the teaching schedules, curriculum revisions, administrative training and inventory. Nevertheless, everyone and everything has come together for our first day of classes!
The Big Move
Our unexpected move was a big shock for us – our landlord had promised to renew out rental agreement the month before, but then went back on his work and told us we had one month to leave our building! Fortunately, Shally was able to find a similar building for us. We were quite lucky since “corner” lots are hard to come by in Borey Bremey – a small neighborhood with apartment complexes just on the outskirts of Trapeang Sess Village. We needed to stay in the same area since most of the BEA kids live in the nearby village. The total cost of the move was just under $2500 US – money we didn’t have. Fortunately, my parents, David and Zaiga Dewar, donated this amount so that we’d have enough for our three months deposit. We were paying $340 US in our old building, but rent prices have gone up over the past three years, so we now are paying $400 US in our new building. As usual, the BEA kids were a great help in getting us settled in. Many of our kids have shown up these past few weeks to help with cleaning and decorating.
The New Classroom
Although it’s a bit of a financial risk, we’ve decided to expand the number of courses we offer at BEA. Sarith, one of our English language instructors, will have a full-course load this year. She went through my intensive one-month teacher training program in February-March 2013 and then on-the-job training with Shally for six months with our Pre-Intermediate English language course during the 2012-13 school year. Now, she’s ready for three courses on her own. She’ll be teaching the Basic and Pre-Intermediate course, and in charge of 86 students. Nevertheless, I’ll be in her classroom for team teaching sessions before I head back to Japan at the end of September. Afterwards, Shally will take over team teaching with her until the start of January. Shally, as usual, is in charge of daily operations, managing staff, student counseling, and teaching the Intermediate and Advanced courses.
Since we expanded the number of courses this school year, we ran a two-day registration from August 30-31 to handle the additional applicants. This year’s registration was definitely the smoothest one to date. We’ve definitely learnt a lot from our past three registrations. This year we spent more time screening the applicants to make sure that they did indeed come from backgrounds of extreme or moderate poverty, which means that their parents’ monthly income is less than $80 US. There were a few parents from wealthy families who showed up and demanded that we take their children. Despite explaining our mission and recommending other schools, one parent even said “Why should I pay when I can get it for free from an NGO.” To put it in more relevant terms, it would be similar to giving food stamps to someone who makes $100 000 US per year!!!
Despite the half-day power outage on the first day of registration, we were able to register a total of 137 students for the 2013-14 school year!
In just a few hours, we’ll be welcoming our new and returning students to their first day of classes at BEA! Once again, I’m hoping for organized chaos rather than complete madness…and, of course, for the power to stay on this afternoon.
Into the new school year!
The Bayon English Academy (BEA) is an accredited NGO school that provides underprivileged youth with quality English language education with professional teachers in a safe, clean environment in Siem Reap, Cambodia.