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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Learning Jungle grows to support early childhood education

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Students at the Canadian Learning Jungle School. Photo supplied

Learning Jungle grows to support early childhood education

After seeing the high demand for quality education and the receptiveness of the students and parents, Learning Jungle opened a second school earlier this year for students in grades one and two.

“For the one year and eight months that we have been open, we have had a 300 per cent growth in student enrollment,” he said.

Established in Phnom Penh on January of 2014, Learning Jungle School offers early childhood education programs that give students a head start towards a successful future in a fun and inclusive environment.

“Our goal is to offer quality education. And we want to make sure our students have the ability to compete both locally and internationally in the future,” said director Ly Virak.

Virak attributes this growth to many things. One of which is that Learning Jungle has the support of a 20-year-old Canadian franchise that has seven locations in Canada, two in Cambodia and one in the United States and the Philippines.

Whitney Martin, Canadian-born grade 1 teacher and principle who has a bachelor degree in education, explained that what sets Learning Jungle apart is their internationally recognized curriculum.

“We teach the Canadian based curriculum and we focus on English, math and science. Part of our curriculum actually includes every aspect of education through learning based activities,” she said.

“So it is no longer students sitting at a desk being taught, it is having them interact and being engaged in activities so that they are learning hands on,” she added.

Throughout the day, students also have art, music and computer classes, as well as a swimming pool for physical activity.

Besides these learning based activities, Virak said that an additional benefit that the school has is that it employs teachers who have the proper qualifications.

“The teacher recruitment is very strict. For our kindergarten teachers, all of them must be native speakers who have TEFL certification. For the elementary campus, all of our teachers have bachelor degrees in education and are certified teachers from Canada and Australia, all who have previous teaching experience,” he said.

Martin emphasized how paramount the student to teacher relationship is for helping students develop the necessary skill set to thrive.

“The whole education process is about the relationships you build with your students because we believe that children are inherently smart, and if they want to learn, they will. But in order to get that growth from them, you have to a safe and comfortable environment, and then, the academics come after that,” she said.

At Learning Jungle “we really foster a nurturing safe environment so that the children feel as if this is a place that they can be open and explore and grow,” she added.

With the school’s understanding of what it takes to nurture young students, Learning Jungle recognizes the importance of incorporating parents in measuring the students’ progress.

“For the kindergarten campus, we have parent/teacher conferences once every three months to provide a progress report. For grade 1, we have parent teacher conferences once a term or upon request. Part of the Canadian curriculum is building parent, student and teacher relationships so that we are all a unit working together,” said Martin.

Virak’s vision was to start small and dream big, and with the success the school has already achieved, he is already looking towards the future. He hopes to open a third campus by the end of 2016, which will provide secondary education. This is all part of his goal of bringing quality education to the Kingdom.

“My goal when I came back from Canada was to try to find a kindergarten that was beneficial for my kids. And it was very hard to find that at a reasonable tuition fee. So, I started to search how I could bring Canadian education standards to Cambodia. With both of my two kids in Learning Jungle, my vision is the same that I want for them—to be the best and be able to compete in the future,” he said.



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