Today’s post is dedicated to our partner in education, the Mahasastra School, a private educational institution in Phnom Penh. All Little Hearts children between the ages of 6 and 18 attend Mahasastra daily. The older children (12 and up) commute on their own by bicycle, while the younger ones are driven there by our trusted driver, Billy, in our giant blue tuk-tuk.
Tony first met Mahasastra’s principal, Mr. Seng Sothon, through a mutual acquaintance a few years ago. They shared a memorable discussion on the value of education, and Tony must have made an impression on Mr. Seng, because after a few days the principal came back with an astonishing proposal: all Little Hearts children could be accommodated at the school, with their tuition discounted by 50%. And they would all receive two free sets of uniforms! After Tony recovered from the shock of this generous offer, he promptly shifted all the kids from their previous school to Mahasastra in 2019.
Attending a private school ensures that Little Hearts kids receive a higher level of education. Unfortunately, Cambodian government schools are perennially overcrowded and understaffed – it’s not unusual for 40+ children to share a classroom. Facilities are limited (no air conditioning despite the stifling heat!) and teachers underpaid, so educational achievement across the Kingdom tends to be low.
Since joining Mahasastra, all our children have performed well and are happy with their progress. We are pleased in particular with the dedication and professionalism of their teachers, many of whom have many years of experience and much wisdom in handling boisterous young learners; and with the school administration’s willingness to listen to Tony’s concerns and commitment to making Little Hearts kids welcome.
It hasn’t always been plain sailing, however, and in this regard, Mahasastra has been especially helpful in accommodating the special requirements of Little Hearts students. For one thing, the daily routine at Little Hearts is quite regimented: an early wakeup call at 5 am, breakfast, transport to school, return in time for lunch, afternoon activities (including two hours of daily English classes taught by May and Roxanne), clean-up time, dinner, and so forth. Aligning this routine with the typical Cambodian school schedule has been difficult. Like most Cambodian schools, Mahasastra optimizes the use of space and human resources by operating in two shifts: some age groups attend in the morning, others in the afternoon, and the order of attendance is swapped every month. This presented difficulties for Little Hearts’ kids, so the school experimented with various arrangements by which all our kids could attend together and only in the morning.
Recently, however, and after extensive discussions with the administrators, Tony agreed to try the traditional schedule, so from next week, our kids will rotate between morning and afternoon sessions like other pupils. This will require adjustments to the daily routine and staff schedules. But change, as we all know, is always a good thing…
We are very grateful that the kids have the opportunity to attend a great school like Mahasastra. A big thank you to both the principal, Mr. Seng, and the vice-principal, Mr. Pen Sarath, for their generosity, flexibility and willingness to keep finding the best solution for our kids, and for always being approachable.
We are also deeply grateful to Ms. Frederika von Krogh, a long-time supporter of Little Hearts, whose generous annual donation enables us to fund the kids’ attendance at Mahasastra.
Studious children in Mahasastra’s classrooms