From my office desk, I can see cars and motorbikes jamming along Preah Monivong Boulevard and the ephemeral downpours soaking the street as I read through Cambodia’s Education Sector Plan for 2014-2018. I’ve grown increasingly familiar with that document: most of my work revolves around analysing policy and the constraints the country’s education system has in implementing it.

As I mentioned in my last post, working at the policy level offers change at a large scale, but I wasn’t sure if that was exactly the type of impact I wanted to involve myself with. Since one of the common issues is the discrepancy between policy and practice, I’ve gone back and forth on the main sides of this debate (you can tell I still haven’t made much progress). I’m working much more in-depth on the policy side right now, even in non-internship related projects, that putting these general theories and wishful expectations in practice seems more esoteric a task for me. Sometimes I think that I went on my field visit too early, because my familiarity both with AAC and the larger education policy landscape have since inspired questions I wish I would have asked my interviewees, if I had the chance to re-do it. While there are rumors of another field visit in the denouement of my internship, I don’t know if those questions will be asked.

A comparison of my ToR (Terms of Reference) and the work I’m actually doing will show little deviation. A.K.A., it’s been pretty much as expected. I’ve only had a few additions, including a skill share on gender-responsive public services and developing and editing some concept notes on AAC programming. I’ve also participated in its 2018-2022 strategy meetings, giving input where I could on its theory of change and programming.

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Leading the skill share for the AAC team.

We also celebrated World Teacher’s Day this past Friday. AAC, with our national partner NGO Education Partnership, organised a radio show interview with a representative from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to discuss the new Teacher Policy and Action Plan and its reforms for teachers (I’m also quite familiar with that document!).

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Members of the AAC team with our poster celebrating World Teacher’s Day.

As I mentioned, a lot of my work involves reviewing policies and government budget allocation to the education sector to inform advocacy campaigns. Because of the new strategy plan, I’m also assessing current AAC programming at the local and national level to ensure that it’s effective in delivering its expected outcomes. On top of that, I’ve been meeting with the Programme Quality team to document best practices and see how we can improve the organisation’s M&E. It’s been a busy two and a half months! My relationship with my supervisor is also great; we communicate often and seek each other’s advice on projects (it helps that our desks are right next to each other’s too). I also set up check-in meetings with him to make sure that I’m progressing as expected and what can be improved/continued. Those have been incredibly helpful throughout this process.

But I’ve also been lucky that the environment at AAC is one that fosters shared learning and collaboration. Everyone seeks advice from each other and recognizes their expertise.  And we do team building exercises!

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We won the “build the tallest structure” challenge!

Perhaps here is where I put in a declaration of sadness as the days until the end of my internship approach zero. It seems appropriate enough, but I prefer stating my excitement to further progress on my current projects and tick off items of my list of “Things I Want to Do in Phnom Penh.” I’m eyeing different hiking opportunities right now… We shall see!

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