Lasting an approximate six weeks, the program’s focus is football, with a heavy emphasis on training and participation in friendly games. However, the program was also created to address the educational needs of the girls, and thus includes constant individual tutoring and daily classes with a strong focus on vocational areas such as computer training and English.
Since the program is designed to address educational gaps, whether in academics, life skills or even football, the primary beneficiaries targeted are young girls who show promise in football and/or have difficult backgrounds. In this light, the girls are between the ages of 12 and 15, still actively enrolled in school, and must be committed to continuing their studies.
Football is not a Sacrifice
Given the time and energy commitment that football can require, we always seek to address the misconception that football training causes players’ educations to suffer. The result of the educational focus of the summer program is twofold: on the one hand, we demonstrate to the community and participants the importance that we place on education, and on the other hand, we showcase that it is possible to be academically proficient while engaging with football.
The goal of the Summer School is to boost the girls’ education and self-confidence, while providing them with an alternative to being destitute during the long, unscheduled summer-break. Many can learn more in these six weeks than classmates throughout the entire school year. This allows them to catch up on what they might have missed due to financial difficulties. While technically free, even public schools usually present severe financial constraints, including money spent on extra classes to achieve better grades.
The Life Skills Component
Thanks to our combination of participation from volunteers and financial help from supporters and donors, the summer school program is very diverse. We offer a number of classes with varying themes so as to expose the girls to a wide variety of vocations and cultural activities. We tailor these classes to widen the girls’ occupational horizons, but also to address issues they may face on a daily basis. For instance, swimming classes aim to introduce the girls to a new type of physical activity, alongside lessening the risk of drowning during the rainy season.
For classes more closely related to academic subjects, we work closely with other organizations and programs such as Our Strength and the GOAL Development Program. The former is Battambang’s only organization for holistic women’s health education and counseling, and the latter is an award-winning development program which uses sport and life skills education as channels to educate adolescent girls. In this way, the Summer School program is also a means for SALT to make use of its NGO network so as to provide the girls with the most holistic experience possible.