A Thought Of New School With CISP’s Christine Bzdel

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Canadian International School of Phnom Penh principal Christine Bzdel recommends checking the credentials, location, and curriculum of a new school for your children. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Providing a quality education for your kids is high up on the list of priorities for families coming to live in Cambodia. Fortunately, Phnom Penh now offers a wealth of options for schooling.

To find out more about how to select the right educational institute, we talked to Canadian Christine Bzdel, principal at the Canadian International School of Phnom Penh (CISP) and an educator of 18 years – including 14 in Asia.

What are the main points that parents should consider first when trying to find a school for their children?

The first thing parents should enquire about is whether a school is accredited. Schools that are accredited have a set of quality standards that they need to meet that revolve around safety, curriculum, teacher credentials, number of teaching hours in each subject and many, many more objectives that ensure a strong and stable learning program. Find out who is the accrediting body and what sort of quality checks do they do and how often are they conducted.

What things should parents look out for when viewing a potential school?

When visiting a school, first note how long it takes you to get there. Traffic in Phnom Penh can make a short distance into a very long commute. When you walk around the school, note whether it’s clean and safe. Are there many different areas for students to play? Is student work displayed around the school? What sort of technology do they have available to the students? Is there a large selection of books in the library? Look at the cafeteria menu and transportation options. Ask about teacher credentials. You want the teaching staff to be graduates from a university education program and not simply hold a TEFL/TESL certificate.

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Students of Canadian International School of Phnom Penh show off their science projects. PHOTO SUPPLIED

What questions should they be asking the principal/administrative staff?

Parents may want to ask about staff turnover, homework expectations, and whether the curriculum translates easily to other programs and leads to university acceptances.

What extra-curricular activities are offered by schools here now? Do schools collaborate on events such as sporting competitions?

Extra-curricular options at CISP range from skating and rock climbing to learning new languages and joining a choir! There is something for every student to be able to pursue their interests or to develop new ones. Extra-curricular activities are necessary to create well-rounded and confident students. There are a variety of sporting events throughout the city where children can meet students from other schools and compete in friendly matches.

What ages does the Canadian International School of Phnom Penh currently take in, and what are the plans for the school in the near future?  

CISP currently accepts students from 18 months of age to grade 6. We are adding grade 7 and 8 next year, and we will continue building until we have our first high school graduates. CIS will be expanding into our Phase II development, where we will build more sporting facilities, science labs, a theatre and all other amenities required in a world-class international school.

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The Diamond Island elementary campus of Canadian International School of Phnom Penh. PHOTO SUPPLIED