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Story and Photos by Orn Makara | Training Officer | Heifer Cambodia

Two years after starting the Values-Based Literacy (VBL) program in Heifer Cambodia projects, the training team has taken lessons learned and obstacles faced to prepare a training course on VBL management. This three-day training course, designed for new Literacy Facilitators (LFs) and Community Facilitators (CFs), took place for the first time December 4-6, 2012, at the Heifer office in Phnom Penh.

Some of the topics included the LFs’ quality of keeping the class on task, how to maintain the participation of self-help group (SHG) members, and the time frame to complete the 12 books. The LFs and CFs who attended represented six partner organizations, including Chamroeun Chiet Khmer (CCK) from the Takeo province, Cambodia Farmer Economic Development (CFED) from the Svay Rieng province, Chtthor (CT) from the Prey Veng province, Cambodian Farmer Economic Development Association (CFEDA) from the Banteay Meanchey province, and Khmer Community Development Association (KCDA) from the Battambong province.

Sareth, a 33-year-old literacy facilitator from the Takeo province, said, “Now I feel confident to start the VBL class. After I was selected as an LF, I felt that it might be difficult to teach, especially the illiterate people. After attending this course I am interested in how to manage a VBL class, and it taught me that it is important to make a clear annual teaching plan, manage the attendance of participants and follow up their study after class.” Sareth added, “When I return to my village I will present this information to SHG members and convince them to attend the VBL class.”

Noun Lun, 61 years old, is also an LF from the Takeo province. She was especially interested in the session on what a VBL program is. She said that it is an important program that can help illiterate people to read and write Khmer (the official language of Cambodia) and allows the time to reflect on Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development as it relates to daily life. “I will try my best to run this class effectively,” said Lun.

Another LF from CFED, 32-year-old Phanory, shared her thoughts, “I am interested in the 12 Cornerstones as it relates to the VBL program. When I go back to my village, I will bring the knowledge from here to share with other members. I will start with SHG members who are willing to attend the VBL class, and I expect that I can facilitate it.”

The LFs play an important role in running VBL classes, while the CFs offer important support. Sokhim, a 31-year-old CF from CFEDA, talked about what she learned from this course, “I am interested in the session on how to manage a VBL class and the 12 Cornerstones. I think the 12 Cornerstones are very good and if all of us could apply them in our daily lives we would have a bright and peaceful life and community.” She added, “When I get back to my village, I will disseminate the information about VBL to SHG leaders and the village chief to motivate villagers and SHG members to attend the VBL class. It will help us to read, write, do calculation and especially allow for time to meet and share feelings related to the 12 Stones.”

Not different from others in the VBL management training course, 32-year-old Channa, a CF from KCDA, mentioned that she was interested in the session on how to manage the VBL class, because it gave information on the importance of the literacy class and how to run it effectively. She said, “After this course, I will help explain to LFs more about the 12 Cornerstones, and assist in mobilizing the participants to attend the VBL class, which will start in January 2013. I will also ask for support from local authorities to disseminate information about the VBL class and I expect that at least 60 to 70 percent of the SHG members will attend this class.”

It is interesting to know the thoughts of participants after the VBL management course, and the Heifer Cambodia team will continue to build its capacities for facilitating VBL, so all participants, especially the LFs, can practice running a class and feel more and more confident to facilitate a VBL program in their communities.


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Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.