9-year-old Dara often misses state school because his mother, a garment factory worker, struggles to pay his school fees.

Even if she had the money, education in Cambodia, like lots of other places, rewards those children who get the best grades — and can afford additional classes, tutors, and sometimes bribes. For very poor children, this system pushes down their confidence and self-worth. For them, education isn’t fair.

In tourist-strong Cambodia, speaking English gets you jobs and opens opportunities. That’s why F2F’s school, in one of Phnom Penh’s poorest neighborhoods, gives children like Dara the confidence to speak English without worrying about grammar, sentence structure, spelling, making mistakes — things that inhibit children from speaking English. 

State schools teach English the old-fashioned, test-heavy way, which results in students inability to have a simple conversation even after years of study. 

F2F gives Dara an education that mirrors how children learn language in the first place. No competition, grammar tests, or over-correcting. Instead, lots of talking, activities, building confidence, and all delivered with kindness and joy. That’s how children learn best. 

Dara, by the way, never misses a day of school.

*Special thanks to the Church-in-the-Garden and participants of the Beer-in-the-Garden event on October 1, 2017.