Creating opportunities for Indigenous students by training teachers

Meet Heuchhiv a teacher educator creating opportunities for Indigenous students through training teachers.

Heuchhiv is a teacher trainer at the Regional Teacher Training Center (RTTC) in Stung Treng and has been dedicated to making an impact on Cambodia’s education system for the past 7 years.

“Originally, I wanted to become a high school teacher and even passed the exam but because I majored in psychology, I was unable to teach at high schools. Becoming a teacher trainer was another way I could still work and have an impact in the education system” Heuchhiv says.

“Seeing my teacher trainees become successful teachers in primary and secondary school is really rewarding. It makes me happy to know the knowledge I have passed on to them will be transferred to young children, playing a part in shaping their futures.”

Recently, Heuchhiv participated in the multilingual education workshop as part of CARE’s Multilingual Education project jointly funded by UNICEF. The workshop aimed at providing teacher trainers and representatives from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport with the skills needed to provide the Professional Certificate on Multilingual Education to teacher trainees. “The workshop covered crucial topics such as multilingual education, multilingual education teaching, and language resources. As a teacher trainer at RTTC, this workshop was vital in equipping me with new knowledge related to the multilingual education program,” Heuchhiv explains. She acknowledges how important it is to provide new knowledge and additional training to improve capacity and offer better learning experiences for teacher trainees.

“What I found most interesting about the workshop was the focus on providing knowledge related to multilingual education. This includes preparing teaching documents, creating, and practicing lesson plans, and understanding the importance of using references and documents that align with the topics we teach.”

“The second aspect is understanding the shift in teaching methodology. Previously, we used teacher-centered and rote learning approaches. However, we are now moving to a 21st-century approach that is more student-centered. This allows both teachers and students to think critically, develop communication skills, and become creators in the classroom. They are encouraged to create something new and learn independently.”

Heuchhiv is excited about what the certificate will offer and believes it’s an opportunity for trainees, especially Indigenous women, to become leaders in their communities. The dialogue and engagement around education means they can educate and encourage others, especially young Indigenous girls who may not have had access to education in the past. She shared, “I believe that the multilingual education program is crucial for all Indigenous students and children, particularly for Indigenous girls in Cambodia. In Cambodia women are still being excluded from education and obstacles like language barriers can make it more likely for them to drop out of school. Having a multilingual school in their village or community acts as a bridge, enabling them to access education and continue their studies.”

“I am also proud that the majority of my teacher trainees are Indigenous women, and they will have the opportunity to teach in their Indigenous language in schools and play a significant part in preserving the cultural identity of their community.”

Heuchhiv believes that the certificate will create more opportunities for teacher trainees, and she is confident that she can teach the 21st-century teaching methodology to the trainee teachers. “

Heuchhiv acknowledges that teaching the multilingual education course has its challenges. She shared that most of the reference materials are in English, which poses a challenge for trainers with limited English and believes conducting more training and supplemental education for the teacher-trainers would be beneficial.

Despite the challenges Heuchhiv remains optimistic, “As the RTTC is the first centre to teach and provide the certificate there are a lot of opportunities for the future and teacher trainers are already learning how to work directly with the Indigenous community. Our teachers actively engage with the Indigenous community, and we even have a visitor program in place.” Heuchhiv is committed to continuing her support and training of teachers, ensuring that the multilingual education program reaches its full potential and creates lasting change in the lives of Indigenous students.

“We plan on implementing a training program for teachers to directly teach within the community. This initiative aims to foster a deeper understanding of how the multilingual education program connects with the community.”