Phare Ponleu Selpak School a school for different types of art in Battambang

Phare Ponleu Selpak School (PPS) in Battambang, northwest Cambodia, offers training to children in the visual and applied arts like painting, animation, photography, graphic design, and film, in addition to performing arts like music, theater, dance, and acrobatics.

Sri Bandol, one of the school’s founders stated that the school encounters financial challenges due to the Corona pandemic and is unable to receive more children, calling for the school’s contribution and support for the continuation of education of children in different types of arts.

Srey Bandol, Co-Founder of Phare Ponleuk Selpak said, “I was young like 13 years old when I came to the camp and you see the kids living in the refugee camp living as a prison. You don’t have any different views, so my teacher she’s from France, Véronique Decrop, she comes to the refugee camp and then provides art supplies to the kids to express their emotional feeling, life during the war. So I think Véronique found a lot of talent from the kids that are doing such beautiful paintings and really strong expression so they try to open up the art activities but she doesn’t teach or train, just give paper, pencil or colors, when someone is doing well so she let them express by themselves she just guided a little bit, some talk to that, so this is the first idea around 1000 kids were involved with that activities.”

They bought one circus teacher from France for fun activities with the kids… The Executive Director at that time, they think there’s a lot of talent here in Cambodia for the circus so I think we bring one founder, his name is Mr. Khuon Det; he’s a founder of PPS as well but he was talented with gymnastics; he did training for gymnastics in the refugee camps (Rhysen 2). So he came to train for around 3 to 6 months at the National Circus School in Phnom Penh. When he returned, he continues to teach circus here.

He said, “So now I am a founder working as an art teacher here and I am also head of the department of what we call COE: community outreach and engagement who takes in charge promoting art and doing art activities even in the city, in the community, or the school…and brings people to PPS to educate or attend the school with the arts.”

But we started only with visual arts: painting, drying and then music, a library…a kind of education but it’s not in the government system. Kind of providing education with games and playing.

Now we divide into three main activities, normally we have four or five Like education we have kindergarten, and leisure class (free time to practice arts), this includes the public school from the government…inside the campus. Then we have an applied arts school that provides visual arts, animation, graphic design, and then the performing arts school providing the circus, theater, and music.

Our school now really has a big challenge with the financial because of Covid as well, so now we propose students to contribute – so some students don’t have a family really capable to deal with finances so we could not welcome everyone because we have limited teachers, limited resources.

We welcome a number that we can afford. I think we should invest in education for its survival so we ask for support and contribution because the cost of the school is around $2000. So we try to set up what we call for Social Enterprise – to provide jobs to the graduates from visual arts applied arts and especially for performing arts the music, circus, theater, and dance.”

Source: A24 News Agency