HOW IT BEGAN
My name is Ineke and I have been actively volunteering in a few educational projects around the city of Siem Reap, Cambodia, since 2009. During this time I have learned a bit about the public educational system in this country and saw an unfulfilled need I wanted to meet. Many young students struggle to keep up with learning basic skills such as reading, understanding Khmer (the native language of Cambodia), and math due to the fast-paced environment of the traditional classroom. Sometimes this struggle becomes so great that students make the decision to quit school; a decision that has life-impacting consequences. And so an idea was born!
With self-correcting educational toys we can solve more than one problem.
- Students can practice independently from school, in their own time and at a pace that works for them.
- Free time can be spent constructively with educational yet fun toys.
- The games are stimulating creativity for the younger students who play with them while allowing older students a chance to develop their creativity in helping developing them.
When I thought about where to begin, I soon thought of setting up a social enterprise. My belief is that setting up an actual business is important for creating the best chance of continuity. The goal of this project will never be big profits; however, it is important that we are able to have the ability to invest in new ideas, materials and methods of manufacturing, as well as pay our employees fairly. But there are more ways to reward the people who contribute, like learning English in exchange for their contributions.
WHO WE ARE
It may have all started with a small plan in my head, but I could not and cannot do this without the help of many people. I am very fortunate that my networks in Cambodia, The Netherlands, and the rest of the world have stepped in and shown support where ever possible!
During this start-up phase I have one paid employee who works several hours a week, but I hope to increase these hours as soon as possible. Along with my one employee there are also a number of subcontractors and volunteers who contribute to my business with everything from reviewing English text to important technical assistance and general support. (For a full list of contributors, please see “Our Partners”.) I also receive very special help from the students themselves, who in exchange for English lessons, work alongside me to develop the games. While providing insight into the subjects taught in school as well as the Khmer language, students gain valuable lessons in creative thinking and applying lessons learned outside of the classroom; subjects that typically do not get a lot of attention in the public education system.
Panha Sabay develops and produces educational toys for the children of Cambodia. Often these children go to school for only a few hours per day with basic materials being taught in a fast-paced environment during those first few years of school. Panha Sabay offers students an opportunity to practice their elementary school subjects in a fun and playful manner beyond the classroom. Because the toys are self-correcting, children can work independently, at their own pace, and build confidence in their ability to apply what they've learned.
Sustainability is very important to us, therefore whenever possible natural or recycled materials are used to create our toys. Beyond the eco-friendly benefits, using these materials also allows the toys to be affordable, making them available to many more Cambodian families!