THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Through its uniquely bilin­gual ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion, Phnom Penh’s East-West In­ter­na­tional School de­vel­ops its stu­dents into peo­ple ca­pa­ble of tak­ing con­trol of their own lives, ac­cord­ing to in­terim di­rec­tor Sa­man­tha Fraser

Southeast Asia Globe - - Education Special -

You’ve de­scribed East-West In­ter­na­tional School’s ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion as “truly bi-lin­gual and bi­cul­tural”. What does this look like in the class­room, and why is it im­por­tant?

Each Early Years and Pri­mary class has two qual­i­fied teach­ers: one English for­eign teacher and one Kh­mer teacher. Teach­ers ‘co-teach' lessons where pos­si­ble. This means that there will be a lan­guage switch dur­ing a les­son, cov­er­ing the same con­tent. Or con­cepts might be in­tro­duced in English and then con­sol­i­dated in Kh­mer. Ba­si­cally, we model to stu­dents the pos­i­tive use of both lan­guages to de­velop their think­ing skills. In this way we are en­sur­ing that we don't ‘re­place' the home lan­guage with English but re­in­force de­vel­op­ment in both.

What are some of the ad­van­tages of teach­ing both the Cam­bo­dian na­tional cur­ricu­lum and the Bri­tish cur­ricu­lum? What im­pli­ca­tions does this have for a child’s higher ed­u­ca­tion be­yond East-West?

The ma­jor­ity of our stu­dents are Kh­mer and do the bilin­gual pro­gramme and we be­lieve this has en­sured cog­ni­tive and lit­er­acy de­vel­op­ment hap­pens ef­fec­tively in both lan­guages. The Bri­tish cur­ricu­lum – specif­i­cally the Cam­bridge In­ter­na­tional Ex­ams – is a rig­or­ous, in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized pro­gramme. Cam­bridge “A” level passes, or the Cam­bridge AICE diploma, en­sure ac­cess to most uni­ver­si­ties across the world. It is a tried and proven pro­gramme that is flex­i­ble enough to be adapted for use in a school such as ours. Stu­dents who can pass AS and A lev­els are al­most cer­tain to suc­ceed at com­plet­ing De­gree cour­ses.

Apart from aca­demic de­vel­op­ment, what ex­tracur­ric­u­lar pro­grammes does East-West of­fer its stu­dents?

All our stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in mu­sic, art, phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, swim­ming and com­puter classes. Our mu­sic pro­gramme is es­pe­cially well de­vel­oped and we have a tal­ented team of teach­ers who of­fer train­ing in vi­o­lin, gui­tar, per­cus­sion and vo­cals. Our Sec­ondary school stu­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to join one of the mid­dle school or high school sports teams, who com­pete against other in­ter­na­tional schools in Phnom Penh. We also of­fer an af­ter-school pro­gramme with ac­tiv­i­ties run by our teach­ers. These could in­clude chess, drama club, dodgeball, pa­per art and wall climb­ing. Once a year our Grade 5 to 12 stu­dents go on ex­tended field trips to re­gional ar­eas of Cam­bo­dia, or to a neigh­bor­ing coun­try. Stu­dents are en­cour­aged to take part in ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause these help to de­velop so­cial skills, con­fi­dence, greater aware­ness of the world out­side home and the class­room, and an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore their in­di­vid­ual tal­ents and pas­sions.

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