out-of-school children at primary level in Cambodia (UNESCO)


UWS schools currently open or in development


children attending a UWS school



Across Cambodia, the legacy of the Pol Pot genocide (1975-79) lives on today with a generation of young adults who have never attended school. We work with rural, ethnic-minority communities that have been marginalised. Many  speak their own indigenous languages and have been stigmatised from mainstream Khmer culture. They are currently beyond the reach of a government education system that does not cater for non-Khmer speakers. Others are simply out of reach of state infrastructure, often many hours' walk from the nearest educational and medical facilities. As widespread deforestation threatens these communities' traditional ways of life, education is becoming increasingly vital to their futures. UWS is committed to supporting these groups to give their children access to quality education.





Developing Schools

UWS opened their very first school in Korng Nork village, Ratanakiri Province, in 2008.  Since then we have developed over 70 schools in 4 provinces - Ratanakiri, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Koh Kong- and we continue to grow our reach. Across our schools, the Cambodian national curriculum is supplemented with additional music, art, sport and creative subjects. 


Teaching the Unreached

The communities that we work with are remote, meaning children struggle to access government schools. UWS develop schools within villages to provide education for all. We only work where children would have no other opportunity to attend school.


Working Alongside Local Communities

Because Cambodia's indigenous communities often speak their own dialect, UWS trains local teachers who can teach in children's mother tongue. The schools are built by the community in the heart of their villages and are managed by their own local governing bodies, trained by UWS staff. Critically, mothers are invited to the school to build confidence and participate in the school activities as much as possible. We only work where the community wants a school, and where village leaders and parents are committed to its success.




The United World Kindergarten Programme is unique to Cambodia, where primary school typically begins at age 5 or 6. After our successful pilot of the Kindergarten Programme in 2016, we began construction of five new UWS kindergartens in 2017, meaning there are now 10 operational kindergartens in Cambodia. This complementary programme is aimed at supporting young children to become ‘school-ready’. It also allows older students to attend local UWS schools without having to worry about looking after younger siblings. With 10 kindergartens now operational, we will continue to develop and expand the programme so that all of our schools benefit from early-years education.


Read more about our Kindergarten Programme


 In 2014, we introduced our dormitories programme, constructing accommodation next to government high schools in Cambodia. This allows students from the most remote communities we work in to continue their formal education beyond primary level and gain a high school diploma. This extension of our core programme in Cambodia has the potential to transform the future of our students and their families as we look to develop and empower the leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. 

In addition to providing accommodation and pastoral care, we support female students in our dormitories with our Girls' Hygiene Programme, providing free sanitary products to support their continued success.

Read more about our dormitories





Chanly attends UWS Ka Nang Ket School in Northern Cambodia. Chanly has four siblings; three sisters and one brother. Her brother stays in Lumphat District while her sister lives in one of our UWS Dorm Blocks and goes to secondary school in Sayors, a neighbouring town. Chanly’s favourite subjects are Khmer and Science (because she finds them easy) and Mathematics (because she loves the challenge!). Before UWS Ka Nang Ket School was built, Chanly and her sister had to walk 10km through dense jungle to get to the nearest primary school. Now, she has a safe route to school and an education that will take her far. 

Read more staff and student stories here



Kang Daek village is located on an island on Cambodia's Mekong river, meaning it is particularly isolated, previously out of reach of any government services. Constructing a school here was challenging, with out-of-season heavy rains making it difficult to transport wood to the site. Nevertheless, UWS Kang Daek School opened in March 2017. Now over 100 children regularly attend the school, where they learn to read, write and count.

Want to bring education to a community in Cambodia?

Support a community like Kang Daek

UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015.
UWS Impact Data, March 2018.