Our largest education program is currently in underway in Siem Reap. The Cambodian Ministry of Education identified an urgent need for more bi-lingual training opportunities for rural children and better quality education in rural public schools to combat early drop-out rates. Responding to that need, we began a partnership with Phum Thnal Primary school in 2005 and initiated free English classes during the lunch hour break. In 2007 we organized the refurbishing of one classroom to be used for English and IT training, installing electricity, desks and computers, and providing teacher salaries for all day classes. In 2008 we constructed a new school building with 3 more classrooms to replace a wooden structure that was on the verge of collapse, thus enabling English and computer classes to run simultaneously, and provide 200 students with free English and IT training daily. The opening ceremony was attended by the Governor, Regional Director of Education and other local dignitaries. The school was lauded as a “pilot project” for the region, due to the innovative training programs. One official said, “Donors have often helped build a school, but the project fails because there is no further training, no program, no maintenance. But you stick with us and see things through and we are grateful.”
In 2014, we expanded this successful model to another public school in the district, Sandan Primary School, to provide an additional 200 primary school children with daily English and IT instruction. An IT lab with 30 computers was installed in both locations and educational software programs for reading, writing and speaking English have been incorporated into the curriculum. Many other repairs and upgrades have been completed in the past several years at both schools including hand wash basins, lavatories, sidewalks, drainage, electric installation, fans, tiles, painting, etc. We’ve organized annual English Camps and excursions for the 6th grade students. The majority of students who participate in our extra-curricular programs go on to junior highschool, including the girls, thus markedly reducing the drop out rate that is so prevalent in rural communities.
At present, 400 students, from 3rd to 6th grade are benefiting from these daily classes. FCC provides salaries for 4 teachers and 2 security guards who maintain the program. We’ve just opened up evening classes for our former students who have graduated to Junior High School, but who wish to continue their English and computer training.