Latest UWS News – August 2014

Developments in Cambodia

In Ratanakiri, Cambodia, it’s been a busy few months!

The time between the Khmer New Year (mid-April) and the end of the academic year is traditionally challenging for schools. Many of the government schools in rural and remote areas close down, and re-open in October.

With the onset of the monsoon rains, many children join the work force. This is a necessity of life for the tribal peoples but we endeavour to strike a balance, to work with the school support committees and keep the UWS schools open.

Despite a slight dip in attendance numbers during this period, we have been successful.


One of the most pleasing developments is the establishment of the libraries throughout many of our 18 schools. The majority of these are now equipped with a good number of books, and we’ve seen hundreds of children enjoying thumbing through them, even if reading skills are not yet strong.

In particular, the libraries at UWS Rock, UWS Tien Kram and UWS Ol Tuch are very well attended. We observe children independently learning without close adult supervision.

We certainly need more equipment and learning resources, but what we have is being used well.

library, UWS Rocks School, Cambodia

The library at UWS Rock School, Cambodia.

Teacher houses

Another great development from 2013/14 is the use of the teacher houses in the majority of the UWS Cambodian Schools. Many of our married teachers now use these as their main residence. Crops are being planted and animals raised.

They are becoming fully integrated into the villages and are able to supervise extra lessons and support adult literacy programmes, often in the evenings under battery powered light, charged from solar panels.

Fantastic progress all round!

Music teaching programme

There’s more good news as we say congratulations to Milly Loveday, our pioneering volunteer from Red Maids’ School, who has developed her own music teaching programme. Milly had particularly great success teaching the recorder in both UWS Blai and UWS Roy – not at all easy as the rains arrived! We look forward to hearing more music drifting through the jungle soon.

New schools

Sitha, the UWS Country Manager, and his team have been fantastic, with new schools completed at UWS Som, UWS Dor, UWS O Tabok and UWS Ka Narng Ket.

Amelie and Gotz from our German partner, Concultures, have run fantastic community engagement projects at these schools, which will open fully in October, the start of the next academic year.

Our 19th School, at Ol Thom village, is under construction too.

Building Ka Narng Ket School

Villagers building Ka Narng Ket School, Cambodia

High school pathway

Thanks to the generosity of Evan Quiros, UWS has embarked on a new venture offering a high school pathway to the students educated at the UWS Schools.

A dormitory block is nearing completion adjacent to the Secondary School in Oi Ya Dai District.

This will allow 80 boys and girls from UWS schools to continue their formal education for a further three years.

dorm block construction

For 2014/15 we are piloting a high school pathway for up to 50 students from the UWS Schools, by providing them with weekly accommodation in a supervised dorm block, built next to the local government high schools. They will commute into the town from their villages during the week, and return to their village during the weekends.

Our 20th school

Our aim is to complete our 20th UWS school in Ratanakiri by the end of October, and at the same time, to continue to improve the quality of education provision in all our schools.

Since 2008, around 4,000 children and young adults have now attended one of the UWS Cambodian Schools, with many more to follow in 2015 as we scale up our school building operations.

Accordingly, we are expanding our team of permanent staff in Cambodia.


Meanwhile, in Myanmar…

In the Shan State of Myanmar we’re almost finished building our first school, UWS Ballram. We will begin construction on UWS Saing Khun shortly, with three more to follow by the end of the year.

The Shan State is an amazing region, and we have been welcomed incredibly warmly by the communities we are working with. As an organisation, we’re at an early stage of development in Myanmar. We therefore tread lightly, and build trust with every visit and every project; we work with the acknowledged support of the appropriate authorities at each stage.

There is huge need for educational intervention in the Shan State – conservative estimates are of at least 25,000 children with no access to formal education in the region. Over the next few years, we know we can play a significant role in developing solutions to this problem, and these first five projects will give us a platform for building many more, much needed schools.

UWS Balram School being built

UWS Ballram School is taking shape – our first school in Myanmar!


And in other news…

Over at the British School of Tokyo, one of our partner schools, Principal Brian Christian is taking on 12 different challenges across the next year in support of UWS’ work in Dor village, Cambodia. Take a look at his blog and maybe even suggest a challenge…

Check out one of our newest schools, UWS Ka Narng Ket, in Ratanakiri, Cambodia, partnered with St Christopher’s School, in Bahrain.Watch this short video tour of the new school, narrated by Chris Howarth, founder of United World Schools:

In social media news, check out our new Flickr Channel at showcasing our work in Cambodia and Myanmar. 968 photos and counting!

UWS Chai Thom School