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ODA Celebrating so much achieved as the year seems to fly

Such a busy start to 2024, where has this year got to?

It’s already mid-April and it’s flying away

Too much to share in one newsletter so we’ll cut it in two

Pour your favorite beverage, feet up, relax and enjoy this catch up.

Such a full house of volunteers this Jan Feb, however it never seems possible to round up all the students for a pic together, they’re busy at university, working on the ODA farms, schools etc etc.

Beginning with yearly on site visits to assess 2023 and what required for 2024 by 4 of our ODA Inner Circle team which supports Leng in achieving his goals for ODA, plus volunteers kindly working with ODA students.

Education observations, training, and planning

Sue with schools manager Piet Po and most of his team.

Sue is ODA’s Education Support Manager  It’s a very busy 4 weeks for her yearly ,conducing observations at all 8 schools with 4 classes each school.  Sue then works with Po the Schools Manager and the teachers on celebrating achievements and growth while recommending areas for improvement over the next year.  Sue wrote a short report for supporters who assist with school funding.  I thought it may be interesting to some others, particularly retired teachers, if so, Sue's School Report is at the end of this newsletter.

Education Enlightenment, Meeting and thanking supporters, and The Trip of a Lifetime

Thanking Rotary Club of Mt Eliza Vic, Australia for their yearly uniform support and showing the new video made by ODA students as an overview of ODA schools.

Visa issues by the bucketful.  Terry and Bob worked tirelessly on the frustrating business of the successful application for visas to allow Lai Hun and Sok Vun to travel to Australia on an Education Enlightenment trip and attending the Global Development Group Conference In Brisbane. ‘Frustrating’ was their nicest comment with their 2nd application and the girls 2nd trip to the Australian Consulate in Phnom Penh proving successful only a little over a week before their planned departure. Terry and his wife Sylvia sponsored all associated costs for this exciting trip of a lifetime. 

They attended the Global Development Group International Conference in Brisbane and kind hosts took them sightseeing in their regions at the weekends.  They ticked off so many dreams they had which included travelling on an aeroplane, train, visiting the penguins, seeing a country Aussie rules football match, eating a pie and sauce and eating half a strawberry farm!!!  I kid you not!!!  A wonderful Fund Raising Dinner was held while they were in Melbourne and they were sure they were responsible for all the funds raised!  They were wonderful ambassadors for ODA.

Financial Literacy program

Child slavery in Cambodia is not about kidnapping, but parents having to send children off to work in Thailand to pay off Micro loan debts for fertilizer, herbicides motor bikes etc 

Terry manages the Global Development Group (GDG) side of ODA.  When collecting data from the villages for his 6 monthly report, he was alarmed (and massively distressed) to read a Cambodian NGO study of the exponential increase in Micro Financing “Bad” Debt and the effects playing out in village families.  There is little understanding of loans and security contracts, the consequences of which are devastating. Terry and Bob (ODA Inner Circle volunteers) put together a three session Financial Literacy program which they and Trai Van (ODA IT Manager) then presented to the ODA teachers.  It was definitely an eye opener for Terry and Bob to learn that not one of the 16 teachers employed by ODA had a Bank Account.  The low level of Financial Literacy of the teachers was highlighted by their limited knowledge of budgets, saving plans, and being unable to differentiate between Debit and Credit Cards.  Terry is currently examining the ANZ MoneyMinded course which appears ideally suited with proven outcomes for developing countries. More on that as information is received. 

CamTESOL Conference and Training

Piet Po and 6 of his teachers attending the Cam TESOL training sessions in Phnom Penh.

Thanks to 3 long term supporters we were able to send 6 teachers and the Schools Manager to CamTESOL training in Phnom Penh in February 2024.  For some it was their first time of a professional Training Program, traveling on a bus, visiting their capital city Phnom Penh, and staying in a homestay with toilets, showers and TV etc.  They attended all the training segments and brought back very interesting and informative training to share with their colleagues. We are very lucky to have such support for our teachers growth. 

ODA Teacher Observation and Training Report January 2024

2024 Report on ODA Schools by Sue Hardwick in the role of ODA Education Support Manager

During my recent visit to Cambodia, I conducted observations and training sessions with ODA teachers across all schools. While I witnessed some commendable practices and innovative teaching methods, there remain areas for improvement to ensure continual progress.

Key Observations and Recommendations:

  1. Kindergarten Classes: Concerns were raised regarding the large class sizes, often exceeding 70 students, leading to challenges in effective teaching and learning. I proposed and encouraged the adoption of smaller group sessions, following the successful example of one proactive teacher. Smaller groups allow for better focus and engagement, particularly among young children.

  2. Behaviour Management: Despite efforts to implement strategies for behaviour management, instances of low-level disruption persist in some classes. We discussed the importance of setting clear expectations and consequences for behaviour, as well as implementing reward systems to incentivize positive conduct.

  3. Lesson Planning: Effective lessons were characterized by liveliness and student engagement. Emphasis was placed on keeping activities concise and stimulating, recognizing that young learners have limited attention spans. While progress has been made in incorporating games into lessons, there is still room for improvement in ensuring the involvement of the entire class.

  4. Reading for Understanding: It is imperative that students grasp the content of comprehension passages and playlets. Greater emphasis is needed to ensure students comprehend the language and effectively decode words. I recommended reviewing course materials to ensure relevance and cultural appropriateness, addressing challenges such as unfamiliar concepts like skiing and household terminology.


Overall, the visit provided valuable insights and opportunities for professional growth among ODA teachers. There is a pool of talented educators who would benefit from ongoing support and mentorship. I eagerly anticipate our continued collaboration and look forward to seeing further progress during my next visit.

Warm regards,

Sue Hardwick ODA Education Support Manager Volunteer

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