Okayama University


School Staff Support Sports Day in Cambodia

December 16, 2013

On December 7, the Wat Chork Primary School in Siem Reap, Cambodia held their first ever physical education festival, under the auspices of the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, other government bodies, and the school itself. A total of 16 volunteers from Japan also took part in the physical education festival, including our own Graduate School of Education lecturer Yuichi Hara, members from the Okayama Prefecture and City Boards of Education, and students from our university.

Approximately 1200 children from the elementary school took part in the physical education festival, along with their parents and guardians. As well as more typical events, such as a relay race and ball-toss game, the event also provided a chance to show off the results achieved by everyday physical education at the school. This led to events based on the Cambodian curriculum also being built into the program, such as soccer goal scoring and basketball point scoring competitions, and the resulting physical education festival was one that was uniquely Cambodian. The children really enjoyed their first experience of this kind of event, throwing themselves passionately into each competition and shouting loud encouragement to their teammates, overall displaying levels of excitement far beyond those seen at comparable events in Japan.

In regard to the holding of the event, our school collaborated with the NPO Hearts of Gold (Okayama City, Representative Director Yuko Arimori). When Hearts of Gold received educators from Cambodia last year, members of the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport saw physical education lessons in affiliated schools and city physical education festivals for the first time, and requested support in holding the same kind of event in Cambodia. Lecturer Hara used means such as Skype to conduct meetings and make preparations from September this year. While overcoming the obstacle of exactly what kind of support to provide, seeking ultimately to create a system in which Cambodian school staff are capable of running physical education festivals for themselves, our students came into contact with the smiles and energy of the Cambodian children, and learnt a great deal through this interaction with people who have very different values from their own.

Taking the lessons learned from the Wat Chork Primary School physical education festival onboard, Lecturer Hara and others are now working with members of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to create a manual for the holding of Cambodia’s own original physical education festivals. Word of their success has already been reported to the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the Japanese Embassy, who offered strong encouragement for providing continued support in the future.