Chanratha Sry is the head of the EE department of PSE which manages general education and community development. His department is absolutely essential in organising the summer camps, as they are the ones to recruit the children to each camp, by contacting all the PSE students in external schools, but also many many other children not from PSE, who are in one of about 150 public schools around Phnom Penh.
The EE department is responsible for developing the paillotes. These paillotes are childcare centres during the year and the aim is to build them near the communities that most need the childcare facilies, and also provide counselling for the families through these infrastructures. Paillotes have now been renamed to Community Service Centres.
The EE department helps to arrange all the logistics for the summer camps. They work in tandem with the administration department to organise food, transportation, bus drivers, schedules, accommodation, and most of all, finding children for all the camps. They are also the ones to provide rice compensation to all the children. During the summer camp they are the team that manages everything, and resolves any problems there may be. A fee of their many responsibilities include organising the pick-up of the children at the collection points every morning, hiring students to do this, checking the number of children, finding lost children, collecting feedback each day on the bus home.
This year the organisation has been extra difficult because of a change in schedules by the department of education, which meant that children were in school in the month of August so the camps had to be organised in two shifts, in the morning and afternoon. This makes the organisation all the more complex, whereby a second run to the collection points occurs at 10.45am, and it is sometimes necessary to do 2 to 3 runs to get all the children, and the morning wave of children has to be dropped back to school right after.
Working with the social department is also an essential aspect of their jobs. When new families and children are admitted to PSE, after a selection committee by the social services has assessed their situation, they then propose one of the EE programs to the children. When a child goes to school, EE takes over the management of that child. There are currently over 3000 children in public schools managed by the EE department.
Despite the unbelievable complexity that comes with organising the logistics of welcoming around 3000 children a day all over the country, Ratha believes that it is all worth it: he absolutely loves the summer camps. The children experience a cultural exchange, they have the best time of their lives and most importantly, they are kept from roaming the streets and dropping out of school. For him, an undeniable proof of how important the camps are to the children is seeing them all cry on the last day…