Our Education Programme is continuing to make an impact on our students' lives. Thanks to your support, over 600 disadvantaged Cambodian children are receiving comprehensive education, allowing them to catch up to the correct grade for their age, join government-run schools and, ultimately, find stable employment. ISF continues to support each child and their family by providing uniforms, paying school fees and providing food for the families. Children who have integrated into state school also continue to have access to all of ISF’s programmes, including English and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) lessons, extra-curricular activities, employment training, and vocational support.
We currently provide 218 disadvantaged Cambodian children (48% of whom are female) with a comprehensive fast-track education, allowing them to study two grades in one year and catch-up to the correct grade for their age. We expect the majority of our catch-up students to progress two grades at the end of October 2018 and look forward to sharing their results with you.
A further 352 students (49% of whom are female), are supported to study at state schools in Phnom Penh. One of these students is grade-9 student Ratha*. In August 2018, she sat her state exams, which would determine if she could proceed to grade 10. Despite needing to do housework after school, she made sure to complete her homework every night in preparation and even signed up for extra classes. “I was committed to working hard to pass the exam” she says.
On 14th August, Ratha picked up her results from school and was relieved to learn that she passed with flying colours. All that hard work paid off and Ratha tells us that her father is very proud of her achievements and is encouraging her to keep up the good work.
Ratha was one of our 37 state school students to sit this year’s grade 9 state exams. We are proud to announce that 95% of our students passed their final exams, meaning that they will proceed to high school. These incredible young people have beaten the odds, going from having missed out on years of education to reaching high school!
Over the past academic year, students dropping out of school before completion remained our biggest challenge. Moving back to the rural provinces or obtaining paid work accounted for the reasons why ISF state school students dropped out. These students receive 1-to-1 counselling from our social workers and employment team to ensure that they progress on to stable employment and where possible return to school.
Vuthy* is 16 years old and currently supported by ISF to attend state school. Growing up in Takeo Province in southwest Cambodia, Vuthy did not have much of an opportunity to go to school as both his parents were ill and the responsibility to put food on the table fell to him and his seven siblings.
Although enrolled in school in Takeo Province, Vuthy struggled to attend regularly. Usually, instead of going to school, he would go fishing with his father or would help take care of cattle while his sisters sold vegetables at the local market. “It was challenging to put food on the table for my family, let alone working hard at school” he recalls.
At eight years of age, he moved with his two older sisters to Phnom Penh in search of better opportunities. His sisters found jobs as garment factory workers and Vuthy found an opportunity to attend school at ISF. Vuthy enrolled at grade 1 level and after two years at ISF, he entered state school at grade 5.
Vuthy’s favourite things about ISF include learning English and Khmer literature and participating in the football programme. His talent on the pitch has led him to playing in defence for a Cambodian League football club. Currently, the club provides him with shared accommodation, three meals a day and a weekly stipend. However, earlier this year, things were not as secure for Vuthy as they are now. When his coach left the club, he lost his accommodation and decided to move back home to Takeo Province.
While he was at home, he received frequent follow-up calls from ISF’s social workers and employment programme team to check on his well-being and to encourage him to return to school. After four months at home, Vuthy realised that he would have a better chance of fulfilling his dreams of a better future if he returned to school. He credits ISF social worker Serey with this realisation and with his return to school – “he could not just stand back and watch me give up my dream” he says.
Vuthy returned to school just in time to sit the state grade 9 exams. Despite his absenteeism, he passed with good grades and is due to enroll in grade 10 in November 2018.
Here at ISF, we are committed to the development of the individual and we are so pleased to see the success of this approach with our recent graduates. In August 2017, ISF student Bunleng passed his grade 12 exam, completing his high school education together with two other ISF students. Growing up in an impoverished area, university was never considered an option for Bunleng. But, his hard work and determination to succeed have provided him with surprising opportunities. Earlier this year, Bunleung relocated to Taiwan to pursue his studies on a scholarship.
The other two ISF grade-12 graduates have now completed an intensive English bridging course that will allow them to make the most of their university studies, which will be taught in English. They will start university this year and we look forward to supporting them as they continue with their education.
In November 2018, we plan to take an additional 80 students into our Education Programme across our two centres in Chbar Ampov and Stung Meanchey. Your contribution is supporting some of the most underserved children in Phnom Penh to access comprehensive education, healthcare and support.
On behalf of all of us at ISF, thank you for supporting our students and their families to change their lives and futures.
*Names of children under 18 years old have been changed.