Our mission in Cambodia

One of the children enrolled at a UWS Cambodia school
Our ultimate goal is to help the education sector in Cambodia build a well-established education system and to increase school enrolment and primary completion rates for deprived children in remote and neglected areas.

Located in southeast Asia, Cambodia has a coastline on the Gulf of Thailand and shares borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Its main topographical feature is the Tonle Sap, or Great Lake, which drains into the Mekong River. Rice remains the principle crop. The climate is varied with high temperatures and strong sunshine in the dry season, and high humidity and sultry heat in the wet season.

Cambodia has suffered greatly from more than 30 years of civil war and turmoil during which an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians (over 20% of the population) died from starvation, disease or execution. This has left a population traumatised and desperately poor. Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the region, and has some of the worst human development indicators in the world.

The vast majority (over 84%) of the population live in rural areas and have no linkages to the country’s narrowly based economic growth sectors of garment manufacturing and tourism. They have very limited access to government services including health and education. Many depend heavily on their land for survival, though rice yields are often very low, hence most households barely produce enough to eat. Enormous challenges exist in supporting this rural population.

Our mission in Cambodia is to improve the education provision for the ethnic minorities in the forested north-east region of the country. These people live in the remote areas and to-date have never had any formal education provision. At present there are 54 active UWS community schools in Cambodia with a further 11 planned for development in 2017. Each school aims to enrol 200-250 students from grades 1-6 and needs to be partnered to a school in an OECD country.

Due to the remote location of the villages and because the indigenous people have their own language and dialect, UWS trains local village people as teachers. This is done by a series of INSET workshops led by a UWS trainer and volunteer education consultants, supported by observational visits to the UWS hub school, The Centre of Children’s Happiness School in Phnom Penh. Each school requires a minimum of three to four teachers. Life-skills and hygiene are taught as part of the school curriculum. The Khmer national curriculum is supplemented by additional music, art, sport and creative subjects.

The schools are built by the local people in the heart of their villages and are managed by their own School Support Committees trained by UWS staff. Critically, mothers are invited to the school to build confidence and participate in the school activities as much as possible. The network of community schools has a dedicated in-country manager, as well as local teachers and trainers, who are supported at varying times by a number of international volunteers from different western countries.

Our ultimate goal is to help the education sector in Cambodia build a well-established education system and to increase school enrolment and primary completion rates for deprived children in remote and neglected areas.

Our Schools in Cambodia

Latest videos from Cambodia on our YouTube Channel

 

Recent articles related to our work in Cambodia

Celebrating International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
Celebrating International Women’s Day: one girl's story

Celebrating International Women’s Day: one girl's story

Lan Sokpheanna, or 'Anna' (5th from left) was born in Takok Phnong village, Cambodia. As a child she[...]
Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017! #BeBoldForChange

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017! #BeBoldForChange

International Women’s Day 2017 is calling on us to #BeBoldForChange, forging the way for a more incl[...]

Show more