‘Dare to Dream of a Brighter Future’ is the motto of Xavier Jesuit School Cambodia, where Dublin teacher Deirdre Ryan has spent the last 18 months. She has made an immense contribution to the project both through her teaching, and as a teacher trainer.
Deirdre was integral in setting up the programs of the Community Learning Centre which provides remedial teaching for students at primary or secondary levels, vocational training for young adults, and literacy and health-care training for working adults. Although she was on a career break from teaching, she worked harder than in Ireland, with days starting at 06.30 and ending after 19.30 when the last of her classes finished.
The Xavier Jesuit School is in the Banteay Meanchey province of northwest Cambodia, and educates through critical thinking and enquiry rather than rote learning. It features an emphasis on applied science education and formation for compassionate service of others, in keeping with the Jesuit ethos.
Jesuit and their partners have been in Cambodia since 1991, serving the needs of war-displaced and disadvantaged people. Now it aims to work with the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Education Department to focus on enhancing the quality of education in the whole province.
Deirdre offered her time and skills and made a difference to the lives of both children and adults in this remote part of Cambodia. She reports that her time here was enriching, due to the amazing people she met although not without some challenges. Her Cambodian dream has now come to an end, but she has contributed to a brighter future for the students of Xavier Jesuit School.