For many organizations operating in community development, most of the funds and donations raised are rightly allocated to projects and services. However, we would also contend that organizations should dedicate a percentage of their funds and time to the team’s educational opportunities and skills training.
When the main goal is to provide a service or to uplift a community, we often overlook how the training and support of the team behind the programs and initiatives helps make them a success. Currently, we see many organizations operating with no budget for staff training and learning. We believe that we should be constantly growing alongside our students in order for us to advance our curriculums and be creative and adaptable to any challenges that we may face. Beyond that, helping our team achieve their goals boosts morale and builds a staff committed to the organization.
At PEPY, we have several dedicated services to our staff:
Since COVID-19 lockdowns have started, our team analyzed what we could be doing better and more effectively, and jumped on any and all opportunities to take trainings, hold exchanges, and partnership meetings with other educators. As a result, our programs have actually grown and improved over the last two years, despite us having to quickly adjust to online learning.
In our Learning Center, the student’s academic performances have been surprisingly good! In our ICT course, the average comprehension score is currently 86%, surpassing our targets for in person classes (85%). This is due in part to team members like Seha, who uses his time outside of the classroom to learn more IT applications and teaching tools to provide our youth with the best education possible.
In fact, all of our teachers took multiple trainings on how to teach online effectively, as well as learned new computer applications to help make their lessons more engaging. Our management staff not only allocated time for these trainings, but researched the best trainers for our staff to learn from.
Our team members are encouraged to continue their education, take more classes, and if possible, study abroad! It may seem odd that we send key staff overseas and work extra hard to compensate for their absence, but we have found that having staff with more diverse exposures and experiences enhances our programs. This builds their loyalty and enthusiasm for our organization because they are given opportunities to thrive and want to help our students and other team members have the same experiences.
Recently, our former Executive Director, Sarakk Rith, took the opportunity to pursue his dream and go to the United States to complete his Masters. Rather than seeing this as a loss, we know he will return to Cambodia and share what he has studied and learned with our team and other youth in our community, helping improve Cambodia’s education system. Kim Ann, our Youth Empowerment Officer, will be heading to the United States early next year for a leadership exchange for several weeks (COVID willing) and we cannot wait to see how her workshops will help the soft skills development of her peers and her students.
We hope to see more organizations focusing resources on their staff in the future as we see it as a phenomenal benefit to the team, students, and in turn our entire communities! We thank our donor partners who agree with our sentiments and allow us to focus our funding on building an organization that is holistic in our approach to improve education and professional opportunities in Cambodia.