The relentless pursuit for construction work continues, with employees often carrying their offspring on these migratory journeys. This pattern may lead to the risk of their children’s illiteracy.
However, a spirited individual known as “Rubbish Youths” has stepped forward to create a school for nearly 20 children of these construction labourers in his local community.
The newly developed apartment room brimming with plastic tables and chairs might initially strike one as a café. But a closer inspection reveals a sign reading ‘teaching underprivileged children’.
It’s situated in Borey Kang Meng, in Sangkat Prek Kampus, Khan Dangkor, Phnom Penh.
San Dara Vit, the 32-year-old man embracing the title ‘Rubbish Youth’, currently dwells in Borey Kang Meng.
Amidst the numerous ongoing construction projects in this area, he often sees children of the workers playing around his house and seeking his financial aid.
Their parents, he learned, work in nearby construction sites. Touched by their circumstances, he first thought to tutor four children. However, the idea soon expanded to setting up a school instead.
He elaborated that the Borey Kang Meng region was teeming with construction sites. Countless workers brought their kids along, depriving them of proper education.
Their desire to learn to read and write was evident, but the transitory nature of their parents’ jobs as construction labourers stood in the way.
Inspired by this predicament, he decided to transform his house into a school for these children, while moving into a rented residence himself.
“I’ve converted my house into classrooms for the less fortunate kids, like those of construction workers or orphans. They all admit to being illiterate,” he revealed.
According to Dara Vit, his makeshift classroom can house 15 to 20 students. Volunteer teachers are ready to educate these children.
Furthermore, a library stocked with a variety of books is in place to foster their reading habit.
The curriculum comprises Khmer literature and English language.
The primary objective is to guarantee that the children become literate, gaining the ability to read and write, after which he plans to secure their admission into public or private schools to continue their education.
“We first ensure they have basic reading skills. We provide them breakfast and lunch to motivate them, while dinner is served at their homes. They arrive empty-handed, and I supply all the necessary school materials,” he added.
Dara Vit explained that his school aimed to inspire children with incentives such as bicycles after one to three months of studies.
Once the children master reading, he plans to help them secure scholarships at public or private schools, ensuring the continuity of their education.
Donations from philanthropists have enabled him to provide the students with notebooks, textbooks, and clothing.
Following an announcement on his Telegram channel to recruit volunteer teachers, he received a remarkable response from 500 teachers who offered to lend their services.
However, given the large number of volunteers and limited students, he chose only a few.
At present, around 10 children aged five to 13 are registered, but Dara Vit said he planned to reopen registration for more students.
He also aims to help the selected children attend school in both morning and evening sessions.
In addition to providing computer lessons and drawing classes, he arranges various other learning activities.
Monthly parent meetings are also organised to enhance their involvement in their children’s education, as parents play a key role in motivating and ensuring regular school attendance.
Emphasising the importance of education, he stated: “If children are equipped with basic literature understanding and foreign language skills, they can continue their life journey without lack of knowledge”.
“Without being able to calculate or read, their options are limited to manual labour. I believe that if such a situation persists, the risk of increased social crises and migration might pose a burden on society,” he added.
He stated that the transient lifestyle of construction workers, who frequently relocate with their children, further aggravates the situation.
However, he aims to establish student accommodation to streamline management, and reassure parents about his school’s authenticity.
So Ny, a 33-year-old Phnom Penh resident, state institution employee, and donor, donated two English and French textbooks to Dara Vit. He had meticulously maintained these textbooks after completing his own studies. His wish is for Dara Vit to share these books with those in need of study materials.
“Seeing his efforts, I realise he’s not driven by self-interest. So, I think, why not give away items that are no longer of use to us but could benefit others. If we can donate, we should,” he said.