Visit to Raymond B.
Cattell School in Cambodia - March, 2011
By Heather B. Cattell
I made my second site visit to the
Professor Raymond B. Cattell School in March, 2011. I am
happy to report that I found everything as it should
be. By all appearances the teachers were
dedicated, the children eager to learn, and the premises and
equipment well cared for. On last count there were 207
students enrolled. As in most other Cambodian schools,
due to the shortage of teachers and classroom space, the
academic day is split in two; half the students attend
morning classes and the other half in the
afternoon. The same four teachers teach both
sessions. Life in the village seems the same as it did
when I attended the school dedication three years ago.
As is the custom when adults
enter a classroom, the children upon seeing me immediately
rose from their seats and welcomed me with the traditional
Cambodian gesture of respect. The happy smiles that soon
came on their faces was due to their seeing that I was bearing
gifts. The Cattell family donated individually wrapped
school supplies for each child, sports equipment for them to
use during recess and maps for the classroom walls.
As I toured the classrooms I
was impressed by the cleanliness and grooming of the children,
especially since I have personally observed the conditions
under which they live. I was told that the effort that
they invest in their appearance as students reflects their
appreciation for the value education and the privilege that
they feel for the opportunity to go to school. I
marveled at the immaculateness of their uniforms since it is
usual for a child to own just one uniform which has to go a
week between washings. The washing has to be done by
hand since there is still no electricity or even running water
in the village homes.
The basic school curriculum
consists of arithmetic, reading and writing in the Khmer
language, English language, and computer skills.
Teachers are well respected in Cambodia and given my
observation deservedly so. They work long hours and
teach under challenging conditions. Their only teaching
aids as far as I could tell, are chalk and a chalk board as
illustrated in the photograph above.
In all classrooms the
attentiveness of the children was most palpable. The
level of student participation was also very high as is
attested by their raised hands.
Since computers are uncommon
in Cambodian schools, these two solar powered computers are
extremely valued. Despite the humidity and heat they
remain in good condition which is likely due to the tender
loving care that they receive. The computer teacher told
me that they are cleaned with a feather duster at the end of
each school day and carefully stored overnight.
I had the opportunity to talk
individually to several of the children. Some made a
valiant effort to converse in English, but since I do not
speak Khmer we had to communicate through Sokna, our Cambodian
interpreter. The boy in this photograph is sharing his
hopes for the future and telling how his parents and
grandparents, who can neither read nor write, encourage him to
study hard and take advantage of this opportunity to go to
At the end of the visit I
gather with the children, teachers and our interpreter in
front of the school. I noted with pride the plaque on
the wall behind us, bearing Ray's name and acknowledging his
donation to this life changing mission.
2012 Raymond B. Cattell Family Trust
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