About the Tablet in Education TIE
Siem Reap is home to the largest temple monument of the world – the Angkor Wat. This unassuming town, a popular tourist destination, boasts of mesmerizing architecture and sculptures, wonderfully exotic food, and warm, friendly people. Situated north-west of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, Siem Reap attracts more than a million tourists each year.
Just outside the town, in the village of Watsvay of the Salakamreuk Commune, lies an ambitious school. This unpretentious school is marching steadily into the future despite the odds that are stacked against gradexy. The road to the Smiling Hearts School is bumpy. It is often dusty. And during the rainy seasons, it is often filled with puddles of water.
However wet the road and school might be, the spirit and the will of the school director, the teachers and pupils are not in any way dampened. On the contrary, these stakeholders of the educational process make the most of whatever resources that are available to ensure the successful operations of the school. They have one common goal: to secure a better future for the Cambodian children of Siem Reap.
The Smiling Hearts school located next to a house is small. It consists of modest classroom shacks equipped with only the basic necessities for the teachers and pupils to function. And function, they do. The walls are not constructed of concrete. Instead, they are humble partitions made of crisscrossed meshes of wooden sticks. Thus, water gets into the classrooms when it rains. The floor is not tiled, hence the pupils step on dust and sand. Each classroom is fixed with only one small electric fan, to cool up to 30 pupils. These pupils sometimes have to endure temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius just to attend a lesson.
The school may lack in infrastructure, but it is never lacking in heart, trust and spirit.
The Smiling Hearts School of Siem Reap was started by its Director, Somaly San. Fondly known as Aly, this strong and passionate woman now heads the organisation with a population of over two hundred pupils. The Smiling Hearts School opened its door on November 1st, 2010 and quickly, it became an outstanding example of a school providing pragmatic solutions to academic challenges faced by the community.
In line with her vision, Aly has now boldly ventured into a new area of education. She is incorporating computer technology into the teaching, learning and management processes of her school.
The Tablet in Education (TIE) project took flight in mid-2013 and today, the school is equipped with 10 tablet computers that are shared among all the students. Albeit meager in number, Aly, the teachers and the pupils are – as always – making the most of whatever they got.
Using the free apps available in Google Play, the pupils of the Smiling Hearts School are not only learning about the computer, they are learning with the computer. Another key area in the TIE project is the teacher training program. Together, the teachers and director resourcefully incorporate the software and hardware of the tablets into the teaching, learning and administration of the school system. The TIE School System is divided into three major areas namely, Student Applications, Teacher Assist and School Management.
The unpretentious Tablet in Education (TIE) project that has started in Siem Reap does in some ways show signs of a new beginning. At the very least, it speaks volume about how technology can find its way even to the most unexpected corner of our planet.