The Education system in Cambodia

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

History of education in Cambodia

Over 40 years ago Cambodia’s education system was destroyed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, which saw the destruction of all schools and intellectuals were executed. Although, since then the education system has been rebuilt – it still has a long way to go.

According to UNESCO, only 1.6 per cent of Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product (GNP) is spent on education. The GDP on education in most western countries is anywhere between 5.5 to 6.4 per cent.

The number of children entering education in primary school is increasing and the gender gap is closing, however completion rates for primary and lower secondary school are low. Parents are unable to afford the indirect and direct costs of schooling and many children are required to stay home to help with chores, field work or accessing the labour market.

There is also the problem that due to the insufficient funding, there is a lack of quality education and resources. Much of the education centres around learning by rote – rather than child-led and child-centred teaching practices. Also, children often repeat years and there are many over age children in the primary system who have not transitioned into secondary education. This all contributes to the high drop out rates as children are bored and become unmotivated.

There is also a gap in the provision for early childhood education. Less than 26 per cent of three and five year olds have access to early years development opportunities. Social and languages skills are developed in early childhood and it is important to embrace this stage to facilitate their academic success.

We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit a rural State school in the Preah Sihanouk Province (photos below). The school was closed for the summer holidays but even so – the lack of resources, basic equipment, teaching materials and the state of disrepair was concerning. The library was empty – the books worn, tattered and barely usable. 

Cambodian State School

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools are frequently overcrowded so often have two shifts – one set of students in the morning and another in the afternoon.


 

NGO support for education is vital.

 

This is where the work of Edukid and Care for Cambodia comes in. Using the donations they receive they provide supplementary education in their village projects during the afternoon and each child is provided with a school pack which contains everything they need to attend school for that year. Edukid currently supports 2015 children.

It was delightful to witness the children receiving their school packs:

Edukid - Cambodia School packs

Edukid – Cambodia School packs

Me with children receiving Edukid – Cambodia School packs

Edukid - Cambodia School packs

Me with children receiving Edukid – Cambodia School packs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here are some photos from a few of the CFC run schools we visited during our trip.

CFC school near Phnom Penh

Children enjoying activities in a CFC school near Phnom Penh

CFC school near Phnom Penh

Children enjoying activities in a CFC school near Phnom Penh

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How you can help:

Through Edukid sponsorship for £20 a month:

  • A school pack containing school bag, uniform and study material for one child
  • One hour’s supplementary education every day after school
  • Supervision and monitoring of the programme both incountry and externally
  • You will receive annual reports, films and lesson plans and further teaching resources.

Download a sponsorship form here

Alternatively you can make a one of donation via my Justgiving pagehttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

SOURCES:
https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/3.Education.pdf

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/columns/education-and-its-role-cambodia

http://careforcambodia.org.kh/about-cfc/our-projects/

 

 

 

Cambodia

To have nothing, is not an excuse to do nothing.

There are many stories to tell from my time in Cambodia with Edukid and I intend to share them via here, on my Facebook and my Instagram. Some full of hope, some inspiring and some also full of sadness.
 
First off, I’d like to introduce you to the most empathic, selfless, driven, kind-hearted, gentle and caring woman I have met – Bonnie.
 

Watch Bonnie talk about her story here:

 

 
I had the privilege of meeting Bonnie on several occasions during our trip. What struck me immediately, was that consistently she was always putting others first. Whether that be fixing one of the groups broken flip flops, spending a bus journey making origami frogs for one of our younger members, sorting out a confused coffee shop order or cooking for us at the Homestay. It’s just instinctively and intuitively in her nature. No education or training can provide someone with these qualities. However, what education can do is enable someone to embrace those qualities and facilitate opportunities for them, to pay them forward on a much bigger scale. Bonnie had the tenacity to recognise this, when she decided at a young age that she wanted to study medicine. Her desire to study medicine was instigated after she witnessed a pregnant lady and her unborn child die – because they were unable to afford medical care.
 
However, as Bonnie conveys during the video – studying medicine was going to be fraught with barriers. Notwithstanding the cost, there was the fact her parents didn’t want her to have an education as they felt she’d be better off earning money collecting recycling, then marry a man and become a housewife – a fate already decided for many girls in Cambodia.
 
Fortunately, Edukid were able to find a sponsor for Bonnie to allow her to attend university and study medicine. Her sponsors were among the delegates on my trip and it was an honour to be there the moment that they met each other for the first time. Through their generosity, Bonnie will be finishing her medical studies in 2018 and she hopes to become a gynaecologist.
 
Of course, Bonnie has bigger dreams than “just” being a Gynaecologist. She has ambitions to also open a clinic in the slum areas of Phnom Penh. There she will offer free health care to those who are unable to afford it (all delivered around her “day job”). Already, still in training, she makes herself available 24/7 to anyone who needs medical care (often woken at 2 or 3am to see people).
 

A truly altruistic and magnaminous human being. Hopefully, through Edukid we could make her clinic a reality.

Please consider making a donation to Edukid – my Justgiving page will remain active indefinitely: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

Other ways to donate: http://www.edukid.org.uk/donate/

From hopelessness to hope.

So yesterday I arrived in Phnom Penh and met up with the Edukid delegates who I will be spending the rest of this week with. We enjoyed an evening meal together and did our introductions. The group comprises of children, teens and adults, from various walks of life, different areas of the Country, but all with the same goal – to try to promote and support the work Edukid does in Cambodia.

 

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

“From hopelessness to hope.” This is how one of the Edukid delegates descibed our day, today here in Phnom Penh and I think this sums it up rather eloquently! Our day started with a visit to S21 Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide.

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide.

Tuol Svay Pray High School sits on a dusty road on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge renamed the high school S-21 and turned it into a torture, interrogation and execution center. Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived. Not only did the Khmer Rouge carefully transcribe the prisoners’ interrogations; they also carefully photographed the vast majority of the inmates and created an astonishing photographic archive. Each of the almost 6,000 S-21 portraits that have been recovered tells a story shock, resignation, confusion, defiance and horror. Although the most gruesome images to come out of Cambodia were those of the mass graves, the most haunting were the portraits taken by the Khmer Rouge at S-21. Today, S-21 Prison is known as the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. Inside the gates, it looks like any high school; five buildings face a grass courtyard with pull-up bars, green lawns and lawn-bowling pitches. The ground-floor classrooms in one building have been left to appear as they were in 1977. The spartan interrogation rooms are furnished with only a school desk-and-chair set that faces a steel bed frame with shackles at each end. On the far wall are the grisly photographs of bloated, decomposing bodies chained to bed frames with pools of wet blood underneath. These were the sights that greeted the two Vietnamese photojournalists who first discovered S-21 in January of 1979.”

It’s really hard to find words to truely articulate the experience of visiting S21. This was evident as we all gathered at the end of the tour for our Tuk Tuk ride back to the hotel – somewhat pensive, contemplative and reflective. I’m glad that I was in the situation where we visited this as a group, as it enabled us to share our thoughts and experiences on the journey back. We were all touched in different ways by the exhibits. For some it was the reality of standing within the confines of the cramped cells, for others it was seeing the faces of the victims depicted in the countless photos, for me it hit home when I spotted an English man had been caught up in the atrocities. John Dewhirst, aged just 26, was on a sailing trip with New Zealander Kerry Hamill, and ended up in Cambodian waters. Their boat was seized by a Khmer Rouge patrol vessel and they were brought to S21. The circumstances of their deaths are unclear. One thing is for sure, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. About halfway through the audio tour I decided to stop listening as it all got a bit overwhelming. The physical reminders, visual images and paintings were over powering in their own right.

After the museum visit, over lunch we got to meet Care For Cambodia who work in partnership with Edukid. Here we were blessed to meet Srey Da who’s story you can watch here:

Srey Da – Edukid

Tomorrow we will be travelling to Srey Da’s village to see the difference she and Edukid have made in supporting the children to receive an education.

We had a small amount of time to browse the sensory layer cake that is the russian markets. Clothes, jewellery, watches, trinkets, motorbike forks, live crabs, a rainbow of fruit & veg…it’s all sold here! I didn’t buy anything here this time, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being there with others as they haggled and bartered for their goods.

Our day was rounded off nicely, when during late afternoon, we all piled into Tuk Tuks and headed off to meet with a group of University students that Edukid are supporting to study. They had organised for us to have a boat ride on the Mekong and they’d prepared a selection of local cuisine for us to eat, which included frog, Amok and fish egg soup! My daughter had challenged me to eat something unusual whilst in Cambodia, so this was the perfect opportunity! I decided to try frog and I’m pleased to say it was actually really tasty!

We had lots of opportunities to mingle and chat with the students. Their grasp of English, significantly better than my Khmer! Their commitment and dedication to their education is inspirational. When we visit the village tomorrow, we will get to meet a number of the students again, as remarkab they now volunteer as teachers in the village, selflessly paying forward their gift of education.

We had lots of fun when we were set the challenge of getting the funniest group photo. Here’s my groups efforts!

 

 

And here is all of us together: