THE European Union's Programme d'Appui au Sector de l'Education Primaire au Cambodge
(PASEC) organized a nationwide sports and culture competition among 173 of the Kingdom's
districts, which culminated on April 4 - 5 in Phnom Penh where finalists from each
province gathered to see who would take home the gold.
"The purpose of this competition was to make everyone concerned about education
and schools affairs. Teachers of course but also parents and members of the community,"
said PASEC's Jean-Michel Le Pecq.
"Each school trained a sports team or tried to set up a drama based on a traditional
khmer story. Then there were selections organized at district and provincial levels.
This competition has been a way for us to mobilize the community around the school.
To prepare and train the teams, committees had been set up in each school and everyone
was involved," explained Le Pecq.
Parents, teachers, pupils, and members of communities had to take part in the preparation
of the teams.
The parents were in charge of doing the making up, preparing the dress for the dramas
or simply being supporters of the little champions.
"As parents are always asked for money from schools, sometimes they get fed
up and they have a bad image from the education (system)," said Le Pecq.
"By involving all the people who are concrened with school and education we
try to create a dialogue and make them work altogether," he added.
The sport competitions gathered more teams than the cultural competition with 81
percent of the Kingdom's nearly 5,000 primary schools having a team involved in the
The sport competition was make up of collective games such as baton relays and tug-o-wars.
A school from Kompong Chhnang province won the first prize. One from Phnom Penh won
the drama competition.
Another competition asked: "If you had $1,000 for your school, what would you
do?" Nearly 3,000 schools submitted a project to improve the quality of their
"All kinds of projects have been rewarded. Five schools received $1,000 and
two received $2,000," said Le Pecq.
Those projects which received a cash award were ones which best dealt with how to
solve an urgent need, and which involved parents, teachers and the local community.
Some form of local contribution from the community itself was sought. Winning proposals
included setting up a library and the establishment of a cooperative project designed
to improve teachers' capabilities.
PASEC spent around $250,000 organizing the four-month, nationwide competition.
Each of the 800 finalists who came to Phnom Penh for the finals were given a tee-shirt
and Le Pecq said that one of the beneefits was that the kids had many stories from
their visit to the big city to take back to tell their friends.