The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges for learning. According to UNESCO, nearly 743 million girls are out-of-school of whom more than 111 million live countries that struggled to improve girls’ access to education prior to the pandemic. School closures will likely increase school dropouts, disproportionately affecting girls. Girls who are out of school are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, early and forced marriages, and early pregnancy. This will have a long-term impact and further increase gender inequality. 

In Cambodia, universities are working to provide online classes but not all universities have been able to do so. Despite these challenges, Harpswell students are determined to learn and have continued to find creative ways to enhance their knowledge. We are also providing our weekly critical thinking and English classes on Zoom. Keo Yary ‘20, Loy Srey Nit ‘23, and Chea SreyMach ‘23 share how they’re continuing to learn.

Keo Yary

Yary is attending classes online but internet connectivity is an issue. She remains committed to her studies despite the frustration with accessing her classes.

… I have seven online classes from Monday to Friday, mostly in the evening … I still can manage my mental health to stay healthy even if I face some obstacles regarding internet connection. I believe everyone is facing the same issue, so if they can still deal with it, why can’t I? Thus … I enjoy walking and sitting at the rice field to get the internet connection for my online classes as I can enjoy the sound of nature in my hometown.

Loy Srey Nit

Srey Nit does not have online classes, so she’s employing different ways to learn. 

Internet connection doesn’t always work in my favor so I try my best to review for my university lessons by using books and notes that I have. During times when I have a good enough connection, I would work with Khan Academy to continue learning and reviewing different grammar rules in English. At the same time, I also keep in touch with Harpswell sisters as well as learning together online. During my free time, I would conduct research regarding my major and related career that interests me the most.

Chea SreyMach

SreyMach gets up around 5 a.m. every day to cook breakfast for her family, do chores and take care of her younger siblings. Her university is not offering online classes, but she continues to study during her spare time.

[In] about three hours of free time in the morning, I look over my old lessons that I have learned before the break. For those hours, I review old materials and sometimes go on to YouTube for additional information. At night before I go to bed, I will teach my sister for half an hour and I will read a book online.

How you can help Harpswell students continue to learn

We continue to provide critical thinking and English classes for Harpswell students on Zoom. For each session, a team of students, guided by the Dorm Managers, conduct research on a recent news article, which they then present to their fellow students, who together analyze and explore it for content, bias and relevance to other issues of the day. These discussions develop the students’ critical thinking abilities, as well as knowledge of current events and public speaking skills. You can help us continue to deliver critical thinking classes and other essential programs by making a donation or sharing our work with your network.