“I failed the first grade”, Sophea who is a 26 years old World Vision Cambodia staff recalled her childhood. She laughed shyly when asked why. She told me that her parents never wanted her to go to school.
Sophea attend school at the age of 6 for the first time. She had been living in Battambang province until 2000. Battambang is a small and beautiful town. It is famous for fresh fruit and rice production. It takes four to five hours to go there from the Capital city, Phnom Penh.
Her parents believed that repeated class will help her to gain some basic knowledge. “ I didn’t care about repeated class because I enjoyed having fun with my friends and teacher” She smiled but then she stopped a moment and added “ My parents often asked me to drop out”, She glanced to a distance and slowly answered my questions. Her parents were too busy and had no time to take care of her. She couldn’t remember how many times they asked her to give up school and help their business.
With a sad expression on her face, she continued her story. Her family was extremely poor at that time and her parents couldn’t pay for private classes like the other children had.
“I used to cheat my teacher many times by not paying for lessons” she told. “I usually walked through and ignored money collector. The teacher knew that but he accepted, as he knew I was from a poor family. At that time, the government schoolteachers usually provided private classes and collected money after his one-hour session finished.
“It was a hard time but it was also fun”, She grinned with confidence and told me that she has many good friends who always support and encouraged her to study until she passed her high school degree.
“I wanted them to know that I am grow and study higher so now I am a fourth year student university student”, She calmly smiled and shaked her shoulder while talking.
“Though I faced hard time, I had some fun”, She finally added.