The warm weather in the afternoon of January 22 didn’t hinder students, teachers and sports enthusiasts to show support for the first ever mini futsal tournament of E2STEM Preah Yukunthor School. If anything, the blazing heat fueled everyone’s excitement and vigour to witness a game of body and mind.
Inside the “SPACEfield”, made possible by SPACElogic and Phillip Bank, futsal
players all showed their knack in a sport that has already gained popularity in Cambodia over the years.
Before the game started, H.E Dr. Im Koch, the secretary of state of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, led a tour around the school. From the music class to the science laboratory, Dr Koch witnessed how the students of E2STEM pay serious attention to their studies and on their future. He said that he was amazed at how confident the students are in fulfilling their dreams.
After the official launching of SPACEfield to the public, the first mini futsal tournament began.
Players from two teams ran into the field with energy and passion, all wanting to win the game.
The audiences outside the field were cheering for their favourite players as the first kick was made.
The game lasted for three hours, with every minute filled with excitement and tension as each team – composed of 13 players each – tried to make a goal.
The mini futsal tournament was an initiative of SPACElogic, a Singaporean company that focuses on corporate office and financial institutions fit-out. It has been in Cambodia since 2010.
“We have been very successful in business and so we try to find way to contribute back to society. At the first, we renovated this school and provided some furniture for staffs’ room. Back then, this place was just a parking space, full of rocks and trees. The school wanted to turn this place as a school field and we thought that we could help. That was the reason that we started this futsal field,” says SPACElogic executive director, Gregory Chia.
Mr Chia added that with the help of Phillip Bank, the futsal field can also benefit students from surrounding high school.
“The first futsal tournament was amazing. I even thought it was a mini world cup. I got the feeling that the players really enjoyed being in the field and the spectators participated in the whole event.”
Mr Chia emphasised that the SPACEfield is part of the CSR project of SPACElogic.
“There are no terms and conditions when we talk about our contributions to society. I hope the school is further developed. In fact, I can see the student of E2STEM, they represent the hopes and future of Cambodia and these students don’t have to come from wealthy families.”
In fact, E2STEM Preah Yukunthor School just started its operation three months ago. The school is a pilot project of MoEYS as Cambodia shifts its focus to STEM education, English and e-learning. The school was created after the education minister thought of enhancing and promoting high standard of education.
Dr Seet Ai Mee, chairman and founder of E2STEM, said that the school had been through a lot of transformation since it was established. A former minister of education and community development in Singapore, Dr Seet said that she has not only seen transformation of the school, but of the spirit of the people as well.
But she admitted that the school has faced and is still facing huge challenges.
“The biggest challenge of managing this school is culture. The students and teachers are not used to seven hours of learning and teaching per day. The discipline is applied strictly here, everyone must be in class at 7am sharp. Like they automatically have to run five rounds of the space if they were late, and that is how self-discipline is taught.
“If we solve this culture problem, everything is solved. This is different from the usual pattern of learning by memorising. Here, students have to do their own reading and ask questions. Changing their habit cannot be done overnight. Clarity, self-learning, critical thinking are needed to improve. Besides, education is not just about the contents of what we are teaching, it is also about internal attitude. I am very happy to see the teachers make positive changes here. They now know the value of sharing and unity by doing and sharing food together.”
Dr Seet also highlighted that the school does not only implement strict rules for students, yet they also have to clean the school by themselves. “We have no cleaner here so teachers and students must clean the bathrooms, toilets and campus on their own. So far, it has domino effect because the students of Preah Yukunthor High School also started to clean their campus,” said Dr Seet.
Dr Seet also shared that the students of E2STEM Preah Yukunthor School are carefully selected.
“When we selected after the exam, we saw that more than half of the students are girls. And then I was worried that most of the student come from Phnom Penh. Thanks to the powerful words that were passed from mouth to mouth, one teacher from Battambang led a group of students from Battambang and a nearby province to take the entrance exam. And now half of the students are from different provinces and half from Phnom Penh.”
The school currently has 78 students, but it plans to get 200 in the next school year. Each student is given attention by teachers and all their strengths and weaknesses are well-noted.
Heng Daraliza, a 10th grader, said that at the E2STEM school, she has been exposed to new ways of learning. “This school here is stricter than the school I used to study. Importantly, student have to do more real experiments and we also use technology to study. I feel like they are preparing us for a bigger challenge when we enter the university.”
And with the new SPACEfield in the campus, Liza is now inspired to exercise and be more health conscious.