Khmers keen to learn how to build a website or create their own blog can now attend free workshops at iTeach Café, the new web-training café-come-Dutch pancake house run by expat Ronald de Block.
The tech café, in the growing hub that is Charming City, has high-speed internet, a variety of snacks and, crucially, computer whizz de Block is on hand to dispense any IT-related advice.
“I wanted to start teaching a while ago,” says de Block. “The teaching part had to be in the evenings because locals work in the daytime. So I also wanted to do something with the space in the day, and seeing as I know how to make delicious pancakes I thought, why not try this?”
In addition to teaching in the evenings, de Block also runs free computer programming lessons every Saturday from 9am-12pm. Everyone is welcome, but he says primarily he would like Khmers to benefit from his classes.
“The quality of websites here is getting better, but it’s not good,” says de Block. “And if I advertise for someone to help me with coding, there’s no one. Even the local web designers here are looking for programmers and web code designers, and they cannot find them. In Khmer schools there are no lessons in web development.
“I really hope that one day I can reach young people, let’s say between 16 and 20, who are already in high school or university and are starting to get interested in web development to do this kind of job. Because IT is growing here and it will come to the point where all the businesses need websites. I think Khmers should know how to make websites – the market is open for them.”
“These are all programs people can learn at their own speed. They can adjust it, they can follow a course over a week,” he says. “On Saturday mornings I just mentor them, show them how to do it and answer any questions.”
If people don’t have their own laptop, there are two Mac computers available to use, and de Block plans to install five more later this year.
The food menu has a selection of sandwiches, salads and the café’s speciality: poffertjes, miniature buckwheat pancakes that come in different flavours – coconut, chocolate or classic, served with butter and sugar.
iTeach Café is open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, with the teaching program at 7-9pm. The free Saturday workshops run between 9am-12pm.