The first ever introductory programming language in Khmer is available now - and it’s free!
Learning opportunities for Cambodian children to become digitally literate are still few and far between. Barriers to learning range from access to computers (yet alone internet connectivity), to prohibitive pricing of the limited after-school classes in technology. However recently there have been a number of fantastic programs offering technology-related classes in line with the government agenda for STEM education and advancing the digital economy, including Champion Coders, Sisters of Code by IT Academy STEP and many more. Although these are a very positive indicator of progress, we still have a very long way to go to equipping all 500,000 students currently in the Cambodian education system with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st Century. One barrier to global learning is that the majority of programming languages are based on a Latin alphabet, but for aspiring Khmer students, we have some great news… the first version of the free, block-based coding language - Scratch - is now available in Khmer!! We wanted to share the great news and a little bit of how this came to life.
Earlier this year Saturday Kids and Raintree, with generous support from USAID’s Development Innovations, collaborated to pilot Coding Cats, offering 100 students a free program that enables curiosity, resourcefulness and critical thinking skills through foundational coding classes. Perhaps even more important than digital literacy, we were thrilled that many students gave feedback that they were now more curious and confident about tackling problems, built a good rapport with their instructors, and were eager to learn more. Through the program, we trained 15 incredible Cambodian instructors in the Saturday Kids pedagogy, upskilling them with a new model of teaching and learning. This cohort of civic-minded progressive educators is creating ripples for their communities far beyond the Coding Cats classroom. And we couldn’t be prouder of them.
We began the pilot with a number of unknown factors and many moving parts that may have affected teaching efficacy and student learning outcomes. Our instructors were not only the facilitators of student learning but they were also key thought partners in the program. Therefore we necessarily engaged them (and students) to refine our final product via a process of honest feedback and iteration. Throughout the program - from our first learning expedition to Singapore, the training-of-trainers in Phnom Penh, live trial classes, plus every single day of student training at the Canopy - our instructors’ thoughtful observations and insights quickly enabled a tailored curriculum that serves to address contextualised Cambodian student needs. While this did not make for the most expedient process, we have no doubt that our program was much better off for it.
One of the most significant barriers to learning our instructors observed was that students who were only comfortable speaking in Khmer learned at a vastly slower pace than those with limited English proficiency (no surprises there). But this was true even if the majority of teaching was conducted in Khmer. This likely led to students’ diverse perceptions of both the course difficulty as well inaccurate perceptions of their own learning ability. Given that the introductory programming language Scratch was only available in English, our instructors have taken the liberty to self-organise and translate the entire interface into Khmer, all in their personal time. Heroes. This has removed the language barrier for this introductory programming language thus making Scratch a more accessible learning platform for children with limited to no English language capacity in Cambodia.
It just shows the most suitable people to teach curiosity and creative problem-solving skills to our children are not necessarily those who have the most advanced technical degrees, but those who are both truly invested in their learning journey and are able to transform constraints into opportunities. For that we are truly grateful to them and look forward to catalysing more extraordinary outcomes. But the story doesn’t end here…
We will be launching a new pilot very soon - Tiny Coding Cats! This is a program that offers a fun digital curriculum tailored for Cambodian students aged 8 to 12, designed to inspire curiosity, creativity, and resourcefulness. Launching in October 2019, this program will be offered FREE to 100 students in Phnom Penh through application. Students will be able to design a variety of original animations, stories, and games that they can later share with others and collaborate on a project. This pilot is a partnership between Saturday Kids and Raintree, made possible with the generous support of Smart Axiata. So if you’re keen to join us as a trainer, read on. There is so much more to do, so we’re also always looking for partners and collaborators on this education journey. Talk to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested to join our coding party?
We’re calling for trainers to join us on our pilot. Not only will you be trained in the Saturday Kids pedagogy, upskilled with a new model of teaching and learning, but have an opportunity to work alongside a community of civic-minded progressive educators. No prior experience is required and you can read our trainer brief for details. If you are a student or know students aged 8-12 who might be interested to join our free classes, follow our social media and look out for more announcements coming soon.
APPLY HERE NOW >> for the opportunity to be a pioneering Coding Cats trainer!
* Applications will be accepted until 11 pm on Wednesday, 20 August 2019
DOWNLOAD TRAINER BRIEF >> for more details, and see our FAQs below.
**Tiny Coding Cats Trainer Info**
Who do you need to be?
You need to be in tertiary education OR currently employed part-time or full-time, and be passionate about technology and education. That’s all! No prior technical experience is required, but any classroom or tutoring experience is a bonus.
When do you need to be available?
You will need to commit to Saturday mornings or afternoons for 6 consecutive weeks from 5th October to 16th November 2019. You will also need to be available for one-day training workshop offered, currently scheduled 14th September.
How will you be trained?
You will be provided basic materials for Scratch training to be completed prior to the course (they’re really easy, so no worries!). Compulsory training in Phnom Penh will be offered on 14th September.
What will you be compensated?
You will receive compensation per course based on hourly rate (Saturday mornings for 6 weeks, 16 hours total classroom time).
Why should I become a trainer?
You will become part of a movement to inspire the next generation of creative and curious young minds through technology, enabled by a community of passionate, kick-a*ss people. And have fun doing it! So what are you waiting for… APPLY NOW!