A couple of months ago we spoke about how our work over the past 10 years in the rural Knapor community, located some 30 kilometres from Cambodia’s legendary Angkor Wat complex, has evolved. When we first met the people of Knapor, they faced many infrastructure obstacles and a poor standard of living.
We worked with the community over the years to improve their quality of life, and to provide them with the skill set to provide community-led tourism experiences to visiting travellers. Today, the incredible development here has culminated in the completed construction of a learning hub for the local extracurricular ‘Forest School’. We spoke to the community to find out what this project means to them.
Along our journey with the community here, we became aware of the work of Kong Bun Lous. Lous is a local English teacher who in 2018 took it upon himself to provide free English and environmental awareness classes in Knapor. The Forest School was a beautiful concept that lacked a critical element: a sheltered learning centre with access to educational resources.
Previously, Lous’ ‘classroom’ was set outside and consisted of a blackboard and a limited number of desks and chairs. With the help of donations made by our partners and visiting student groups, Discova and the Knapor people have been able to turn Lous’ classroom into a safe, comfortable space.
Construction on the learning hub was completed on 31 July and classes commenced on 1 September. What does the space entail? A 18m2 library and a 42m2 classroom, as well as a toilet block, all painted in atypical bright colours to match the happy atmosphere the learning centre brings. Here the 60-80 Knapor students have the opportunity to continue their educational development in a supportive, secure environment.
While the hub was contracted to and designed by a professional construction company in Siem Reap, 80% of the hands-on builders involved in the construction were local Knapor people. We wanted to ensure the best quality and standards for the hub, while providing jobs and involvement for local villagers.
Within the months of construction, our Discova Educational Travel (DET) team also brought a local student group from Pacific Ridge School (California) to support some of the efforts over the course of two days. It’s thus not only the financial donations, but also the hands-on work from visiting student groups that make projects like these a reality.
Our Educational Travel Operations Executive, Sopheak Chheang, has worked with the community to select a teaching plan and determine student level divisions for current and future curriculums. Income generated from the community-based tourism activities that have been developed here will in part be diverted to the school to ensure its maintenance and long-lasting impact, as well as other infrastructural projects.
The Knapor people have, through their own determination and hard work, come so far in the past 10 years. We will continue to maintain our relationship with them and support wherever needed. However, we feel confident that the community has now ‘graduated’ and can sustainably support itself without our intervention. We hope to now continue to work with neighbouring villages (like Trei Nhoar) and enable them to support their own economic growth, too.
It’s only through the generous support of our partners and travellers that initiatives like these can continue to make a difference in the lives of local communities. Whether your travellers get hands-on or enjoy any of the tourism experiences on offer in places like Knapor, they’re part of creating a brighter future. And for that, we’d simply like to say, Thank You!
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