Teach English at a community school in Cambodia providing disadvantaged children with the tools to gain meaningful employment and break the cycle of poverty.
The reign of the Khmer Rouge devastated the education system in Cambodia and destroyed its very foundation. Since then, the Cambodian government has invested a lot of time and money into rebuilding their education system. However, change is slow and Cambodia still has one of the poorest literacy rates in Asia, especially amongst women. High dropout rates, lack of qualified teachers and classroom overcrowding are all significant factors that continue to have a negative impact on the countries education system.
Cambodia’s economy is shifting from that of traditional sustenance farming to an economy driven by industry and service. This economic change has further enhanced social inequality within the country as the less educated and economically poorer members of society are driven into low-paid jobs with no career development. The demand for skilled labour, especially within the service sector to keep up with Cambodia’s growing tourism industry, calls for a greater need for children to get more engaged in their education, in particular with developing English language proficiency.
PMGY place volunteers at a community school programme where the aim of the project is to provide accessible education and English development to children from the surrounding villages. The opportunity to learn and develop English is so high in this rural area that children are prepared to travel 7km each way daily for a one hour English lesson. The school usually has over 100 children attending each day. The project has grown so much that the programme is now expanding into nearby village schools to provide even more opportunities to the local community.
For many of the children from the rural villages, learning English is seen as the only way to get on in life and achieve the better jobs in Cambodia such as accounting and hotel work to bring an overall higher standard of living for themselves.
The school provides free English lessons to children from low-income families in the Takeo province. The children still attend public school in the mornings and in the afternoon attend the community school programme that provides a key focus on English language development.
You should arrive into Phnom Penh International Airport (airport code PNH) on the selected Monday start date. Programmes start on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month.You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Sunday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
All volunteers will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the programme. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we DO NOT send a hardcopy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains literally everything you need to know – from what to pack, to how to obtain a visa, to local language guides. It is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you require any further information not covered in the Volunteer Handbook then our team are always on-hand to assist you.
Most volunteers lead their own classes, although if requested our team can place you to buddy up with a more experience volunteer to start with although this is dependent on volunteer numbers at the time. Classes are divided based on ability and age range. The children’s ages range from 5 to 18 years. You will find that the younger children come at the start of the afternoon and the older children come late afternoon.
There are five classrooms in total at the project where teaching takes place. Volunteers are expected to teach at least four one hour lessons daily. Although English is the main subject you will teach, volunteers do have the opportunity to teach Computer Studies, Maths, as well as creative activities such as Art, Dance and Sports.
There is an office of resources and textbooks on site from which to base your lessons. Volunteers are encouraged to introduce creative and engaging ways of covering the lesson materials. Class sizes vary from 5 to 25 children.
Volunteers will teach children across all ages through the day as when one lesson is finished and this class returns to their nearby village; the next class comes to the project for their one hour lesson and so the sequence continues until the evening time when lessons finish.
As you teach the same classes daily within the same time slots, it allows for you to ingrain structure and build rapport with the children. This is in addition to seeing first hand the development of the children from the start of your programme to the end of your programme.
Volunteers are more than welcome and encouraged to make their lessons fun and engaging and this may include storytelling, singing songs and arts and crafts activities. There is plenty of outdoor space where volunteers can take the class out to play sports, educational games or enjoy some play time at the end of an intense lesson on the slides and swings!
We encourage volunteers to prepare as much as possible for their teaching programme overseas.
IN & AROUND PHNOM PENH
PMGY volunteers are based 90 minutes away from central, exotic Phnom Penh. Set along the banks of the mighty Mekong, Cambodia’s capital is the Asia many dream about as well as an attack on the senses. And that’s all part of the attraction!
From the glimmering spires of the Royal Palace to the trendy café culture, the city is one of the hippest in the region and fast becoming an essential feature in the itinerary of anyone travelling to South East Asia.
PMGY’s volunteer programmes in Cambodia allow you to engage with some of the most disenfranchised members of the community and see a side of this magnificent country to which the average visitor will be totally oblivious. Whilst you’re not volunteering there a number of wonders throughout the whole country that will keep you entertained.
S-21 (TUOL SLENG) PRISON
This prison was the Khmer Rouge’s primary interrogation and extermination centre, designed to purge anti-Khmer Rouge elements from the new society Pol Pot and his henchmen began ruthlessly creating. Before the 1975-79 regime, the building was a school. The prison cells contain a variety of information about the history of the Khmer Rouge, victims of the S-21 prison and an insight into what went on behind the prison gates.
Choeung Ek, commonly known as the ‘Killing Fields’, is the site where thousands of Khmer Rouge prisoners were executed and subsequently buried. It is particularly harrowing when you discover the sheer scope of the atrocities that took place. Located around 30 minutes from central Phnom Penh, you can hire a tuk-tuk to take you to and from Choeung Ek.
We suggest that you watch the film ‘The Killing Fields’ by Roland Joffé and/or read one of the following two books: ‘First They Killed My Father’ by Loung Ung or ‘Year Zero’ by Francois Ponchaud. These will definitely give you a good background as to what happened in Cambodia during these torrid years and heighten your experience of visiting Tuol Sleng prison and Choeung Ek.
The Royal Palace is located opposite the ever present Tonle Sap River. Although not as large and impressive as the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace is still a point of immense beauty. The Silver Pagoda is simply brilliant and the surrounding gardens are extremely beautiful.
It’s best to visit the temple first thing in the morning whilst it’s cooler and before the large tour groups overwhelm the place and creep into every photo you take! Be warned you must cover your shoulders and knees in order to gain access.
Located just opposite the Royal Palace, the museum has a large art collection, statues of Hindu gods as well as two magnificent statues, one of king Jayavarman, the other of Yama, the Hindu god of death. No photos are allowed and it is a must visit to get the vibe of the city and country, for any visitor.
You will be picked up at the airport by the Plan My Gap Year team and taken to your accommodation.
If you would like us to also arrange your return, we will charge a fee of £35.
During your time with PMGY you will live in our volunteer accommodation which is just around a 20 minute tuk tuk from the centre of Takeo where you will find local restaurants, convenience stores and ATMs. You’ll be living with other volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.
The accommodation is basic but comfortable in a dormitory like form. Each room has bunk beds with up to 14 people per room in same-sex rooms. Volunteers are provided with fans in the room and their own mosquito net and bedding. You are also welcome to bring your own mats or blow up mattresses if you want some extra comfort.
Bathrooms are shared, have a shower and western style toilet. The water is cold but this shouldn’t be a problem as Cambodia is hot and humid all year-round! Volunteers are advised to bring their own toiletries from home as a lot of the products in Cambodia (for example shampoo and shower gel) have bleach in them, so it may be better to bring these kind of products from back home.
We encourage you to bring some small padlocks for your suitcase and/or store any valuables with our local team in their private area. There will also be fridge space available for volunteers to store any items they need to keep chilled. Volunteers are advised to note that cupboard space is not available within the dorm.
The volunteer accommodation is located right next to where our local team live and on the same site to where we run our afternoon teaching programme. Although volunteers have their own private space there is still the security of living next to our local team who can assist you if need be. It is also a great way to learn more about Cambodian culture and practise your new-found language skills!
Please note that the accommodation volunteers live in is within very close proximity to a lot of animals, including dogs, cats, cows and chickens.
During our busiest months (June to September) you may be placed at alternative accommodation. This could be a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
Each day we will provide you with breakfast and dinner (Monday-Friday) at the accommodation which will be prepared by the cook – all cutlery and crockery etc is provided. For breakfast, you’ll be provided with toast, eggs, jam, noodles, coffee, tea. In the evening you will be provided with a traditional Cambodian dish with the odd western meal. Filtered drinking water is available free of charge for you to help yourself as you please.
You will need to purchase your own lunch. Volunteers are advised to budget around £2 each day for lunch.
All meals at the weekend are at volunteers expense and not included in the programme fee. Volunteers will usually travel at the weekends anyhow.