With the second half of the calendar year now in full swing, we're pleased to give you more information and insight into how your support is making a difference.
Here at ISF, we offer ongoing holistic support to all our Education Programme students including healthcare, two school meals six days per week, monthly food parcels for their families, school fees, uniforms and other materials, English classes, computer classes, extra-curricular activities such as sport and dance, vocational training and Employment Support.
215 students are currently studying two grades in one year in our Catch-up Education Programme. We were delighted to see 88% of our catch-up students pass their exams in May with flying colours, progressing to the next grade. The 26 students who failed will have to repeat the grade and will have a chance to attend extra classes at ISF.
A further 379 students are supported to study at government-run schools in Phnom Penh. Each student received two uniforms, a pair of shoes, a backpack and a set of stationary. 45 state school students who had to walk more than 2km to school also received bicycle and helmets. During the reporting period, our students’ attendance rates have been high (93%) and the percentage of students scoring above average has increased by 27% compared to the last quarter.
Receiving an education is an opportunity that ten-year-old Saren* has grabbed with both hands. Life for him isn’t easy but he manages to attend school every day, to study hard, to help his mother sell fruit in the evenings and to play football in between – all with focus and a determination to succeed.
Saren is one of 11 siblings and the first in his family to go to school, a chance he didn’t think he’d get to have as his family’s income was too low to cover education costs for any of the children. Attending school is more than just the chance to learn the state curriculum, for Saren it’s a chance to learn and practice English (his favourite subject), to play with his friends, to join ISF’s Football Programme and to have a break from difficult living conditions at home.
To support nutrition as well as help compensate for any loss of income due to a child attending school, ISF provides the families of students with monthly food parcels. This has gone a long way in Saren’s household and means that two of his other siblings are now also able to receive an education – one at ISF and one at state school.
Saren’s favourite pastime is football which he excels at and was a key player in the winning team that took home first place in the U10 Boys category of the AIA-ISF Youth League 2018/19. Every day at school, in between classes, he can be found kicking a ball around with his friends and teammates. Saren’s favourite subjects include Khmer and English and he can also be found practicing speaking and reading English with his classmates.
Saren’s English teacher Hanlie has praised him for his hard work and he is very proud to be considered a top student. “I’m very happy that my teacher said that I’m a smart student and get to good grades” he says. “I’m always reading my textbook and happy to practice English with foreign visitors when they come to visit ISF” he adds.
In the future, Saren dreams of becoming an English teacher and a football player for the Cambodian National Team.
From education to healthcare to nutrition and football competitions, we're striving to reduce inequalities in the communities where we're working and make a difference where it matters most. As always, thank you for supporting our work and making good news stories like Saren’s possible.
Dear friends of ISF,
We did it! With your help, we raised $16,828 through our project “Give Disadvantaged Cambodian Children an Education”, exceeding our target of $16,000. On behalf of all of us at ISF, thank you for making this possible. We would like to extend a special thank you to our recurring donors who continue to support ISF and help us make a long lasting impact in the lives of almost 700 Cambodian children marginalised by extreme poverty. Your monthly donation will be automatically transferred to our newest project "Spread the Joy of Education in Cambodia".
We would love for all our donors to stay connected with us. The most sustainable way to support ISF's children is by setting up a recurring monthly donation to our project “Spread the Joy of Education”. In a country, where 95% of youth don't finish secondary school, your monthly donation to our Education Programme can change a life. Your recurring online donation is secure and flexible. You choose the amount you wish to give each month and you can change, or cancel, your pledge at any time. Sign up now and start making a long lasting impact in Cambodia.
You can also continue to support our work by making a one-off donations to our newest project. Your donation goes a long way to helping us provide children marginalized by extreme poverty with the opportunity to access quality education, healthcare and sport. We would love to stay in touch and keep you up to date with our work, if you haven't already, please sign up to our monthy newsletter.
As we start the new calendar year, we’re reflecting on the year of achievements we had in 2018 - and looking forward to what 2019 will bring.
2018 was a successful and exciting year for all of us at ISF. We’ve received international recognition in the form of awards and shortlists for our Football Programme and we welcomed 80 new students into our Catch-up Education Programme and saw a further 80 students graduate the programme and progress to state school. We’re proud to now partner with over 60 NGOs, schools and community organisations and to be part of a growing network that values the importance of education, healthcare and sport in creating positive change in society.
Our achievements this year:
Thank you for making 2018 such a memorable and impactful year. We hope you’ll join us in 2019 in making a difference, one child at a time, through education, healthcare and sport.
Dear friends of ISF,
With the end of the year approaching, we'd like to send you a note to thank you for your amazing support of ISF. Thanks to supporters like you, our project "Give Disadvantaged Cambodian Children an Education" is almost fully funded. We look forward to continuing to partner with you and to changing the lives of many more Cambodian children in the years to come.
In November 2018, we took an additional 80 students who have never been to school into our Education Programme. At ISF, they will have access to a comprehensive fast-track education, which will allow them to study two grades in one year and catch-up to the correct grade for their age.
The past quarter was exam-time here in Cambodia. This year, we were delighted to see 90% of our catch-up students pass their exams with flying colours and progress two grades at the end of October. Among these students, 80 even caught up to the correct grade for their age and are now supported to study at government-run schools.
We currently support a total of 218 students in our Catch-up Programme and a further 323 students 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. In addition to completing her household chores after school in the evening, she made sure to complete her homework and to revise in preparation for the exam and even signed up for extra classes. “I was committed to working hard to pass the exam” she says.
On 14 August, Ratha picked up her results from school and was relieved to learn that she passed with great grades. 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 students 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 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, he 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 prospects. 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 – “Serey 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.
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.
Our Education Programme is continuing to make an impact on our students' lives. Thanks to ISF, over 650 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. Further to this, in November 2018, we will take an additional 80 students into our Education Programme across our two centres in Chbar Ampov and Stung Meanchey.
We were delighted to see 187 out of 218 catch-up students (86%) succeeding in their exams in May 2018 and progressing one grade. One of these students is Leaphea*, who never had an opportunity to go to school before because her parents simply could not afford to send her. In 2015, our social worker Sophea met with Leaphea and her family. Leaphea still remembers the meeting vividly: “I remember the date, it was on 20th October 2017 that he called my mother and said that I could join ISF’s Education Programme. My first day with ISF was on 1st November 2017 and I joined grade 1. In May, my teachers told me that I could join grade 2. I am so excited! I am always happy when I am at ISF because I have food to eat, friends to play with and teachers that always take care of me. I wish that next year my youngest brother will be able to come to ISF because I want to see him have a good education and be as happy as me. My favorite subjects are maths and Khmer. I want to become a teacher in the future because I want to teach all the children who want to study but do not have the chance.”
A further 353 students, 49% of whom are female, are supported to study at public schools in Stung Meanchey and Chbar Ampov. 89% of them passed their semester I tests in March 2018 with 45% of them scoring above average. Our state school students will take their final exams this month and we are looking forward to sharing their results with you soon.
We are proud to announce that, thanks to the improvement implemented in our Education Programme, our students’ attendance rate increased by 4%. At the beginning of the academic year, 91% of state school students were regularly attending classes. However, the percentage of students regularly studying at state schools increased to 95% in August 2018.
At ISF, we also provide English classes to a total of 489 catch-up and state school students, 49% of whom are female. Students’ attendance rate continues to be very high, with 80-90% attending classes regularly. To improve our students skills and confidence in communicating in English, we hired two fluent English-speaking teachers and English-speaking volunteers continue to visit ISF to support our Khmer staff.
It is hard to believe that just a couple of years ago Sokha* couldn't speak a word of English. Now, she is the top of her class and can confidently hold conversations in English. Sokha told us that her education means the world to her. “I was so sad back then because I didn’t want to stop studying” she says, remembering when she had to drop out of state school. “When I started to study at ISF, I felt that everything was absolutely different from the state school – the teachers took such good care of all the students and I could study English and art."
Mr. Bunthy, Sokha’s English teacher here at ISF, says: “Sokha is the brightest student in the classroom. When she joined my class she didn’t know a single letter of the alphabet. After two years of studying English, she can now listen, read, write and speak in English very well. Her improvement was noticeable at ISF’s Children’s Party earlier in the year when I selected her to do a presentation about her life in English. She did a fantastic presentation in front of hundreds of students, trustees, teachers, staff, and visitors. I am sure she will become a great English speaker and will go on to build a good career for herself.”
Students dropping out of school before completion remains our biggest challenge. Moving back to the rural provinces or obtaining paid work accounted for the reasons why 11 ISF state school students dropped out during the reporting period. These students are receiving 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. When appropriate, our social workers and employment team support students to find part-time jobs, so that they can continue to study whilst generating much needed income as opposed to dropping out entirely. Currently, seven students are studying and working part-time as professional football players, football coach assistants, waiters and ISF librarians and five students are undertaking training to become barbers. ISF social workers also support the children’s families where possible by suggesting employment or education opportunities which the family could benefit from. Supporting family members to find gainful employment reduces the rate of older students needing to drop out of school to support their family.
After meeting with ISF's social workers, 17 year old student Vasson* decided not to drop out of school. He learned that not only would his prospects be better if he finished his education but that he could also do vocational training alongside his studies.
Vasson* joined ISF’s Catch-up Education Programme in 2013, to study grade 1 at the age of 11. Now, he is 17 years old and studying in grade 8 at high school.
Vasson recently told us a little bit more about the impact ISF’s programmes have had on his life to date: “Two of my brothers are also students here at ISF and other three have never attended school because my mother cannot afford to send them. Our family’s living situation is very difficult and it made me want to stop studying so I could find a job and work full-time. But, after ISF’s social worker talked to me, I realised that, if I graduated high school, I would have more opportunities to find a job and earn a better wage. Their advice led me to change my mind and continue my studies.
ISF also gave me the opportunity to join their Employment Programme and access vocational training. They support me to attend barber training every Sunday at a private barber shop. I hope that this skill will help me to earn an income while I am studying at high school. I have been attending barber training for one year and four months and I’ve learned how to do many different men’s hair styles. I want to run a small business when I graduate the training. When I have free time, I help to cut the hair of other ISF students who don’t have money to go to a barber shop. Doing this allows me to improve my skills, build my confidence and also helps my friends.I will continue try to overcome all my challenges until I can reach my dream to become a doctor in the future.”
ISF’s university students continue to receive support from our dedicated team of social workers and have access to ISF’s Employment Programme to develop their employability skills and competencies.
We are happy to report that our university student Siekheang recently successfully completed her pre-university English bridging course and Thida is on track to complete it in September 2018. Both students will then begin their university education in November 2018. At the moment, both are also working full-time to help support their families.
The third student, Bunleng, was offered a 50% scholarship to study at the National Taiwan University. Bunleng, who speaks excellent Chinese and English, moved to Taiwan in March 2018 where he will be living and studying for four years.
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.
It has been a season of change at ISF over the last couple of months as we have welcomed new staff members and set things in motion in line with our new strategic plan. As part of a wider Education Programme review in 2017, the organisation undertook thorough reviews of the English and Employment Programmes and developed strategies to further increase impact.
The revamp of the English Programme is now well underway and we opened our dedicated English Language Training Centre at ISF's Stung Meanchey school in Phnom Penh earlier this month. This centre will act as a resource hub for all of our English teachers, providing access to materials for more interactive and engaging teaching methods.
Since its inception in 2006, our English Programme has grown from providing basic lessons to 15 children to offering English at various levels to almost 500 students. We currently employ eight English teachers and a Head of Programme who oversees the academic activities and curriculum across both of ISF’s schools.
At ISF, we know what a positive difference quality education and healthcare can make and 11-year-old Makara*, pictured below, has lovely things to say about our Catch-up Education and Healthcare Programmes.
Born in Poy Pet, a city in Northern Cambodia, bordering Thailand, Makara only attended school for three years and spent the rest of his time helping his parents, who worked as labourers, to earn a small income. From the age of 6, Makara would lend a hand with tasks such as mixing cement. When he did attend school, lessons were taught in Thai and then translated into Khmer by a translator, making the process of learning that little bit more difficult and time consuming.
Makara’s parents worked hard but for little reward and their employers often paid them the bare minimum if they paid them at all. Because of this, Makara and his family relocated to Phnom Penh in search of a better life with better job opportunities. Makara’s mother and older sister now work in a factory producing jelly and his father still works in construction. Makara entered ISF’s Catch-up Education Programme in grade 2 in November 2016 and has been making great progress in his studies since. Before ISF, Makara had never seen a doctor because his family just couldn’t afford it. Now, ISF’s healthcare provides him with regular check-ups and he has already benefited from dental care.
Makara has visited the dentist six times since enrolling and has had several rotten teeth removed. Before ISF, he had never brushed his teeth because he did not have a toothbrush. ISF’s nurses taught him the importance of basic healthcare practices such as how to brush his teeth and provided him with toothpaste and toothbrushes. The benefit of this is also reaching his siblings as Makara has passed on his newfound knowledge to the rest of his family. Makara’s favourite subject in school is Khmer literature and he hopes to become a police officer when he grows up.
We currently provide 218 disadvantaged Cambodian children (48% of whom are female) with a comprehensive fast-track education, allowing them to catch-up to the correct grade for their age, join government-run schools and, ultimately, find stable employment. Most catch-up students attend school regularly and 199 out of 212 students (91%) passed their mid-term tests in March 2017 with 55% of them achieving excellence. We expect the majority of our catch-up students to progress to the next grade in May 2018.
A further 363 students (49% of whom are female), are supported to study at state schools in Phnom Penh. Although most students score above average in their monthy tests, 18 students are failing as they do not regularly attend classes at state school. Absenteeism has been one of our main concerns. ISF's social workers are working closely with state school teachers to monitor student attendance and progress, and provide support to students who are struggling academically. Furthermore, they have conducted home visits to discuss reasons and encourage parents to monitor children’s attendance more closely. ISF is also running extra classes for students who need further support to improve their academic performance.
As part of our ongoing commitment to enabling our students to find gainful and fulfilling employment when they complete school, ISF’s Employment Programme has been reviewed to ensure that it is up-to-date and that our programme meets the needs of the students we support. ISF’s new Head of Employment Programme started working with ISF in March 2018 and is tasked with building a robust internal soft-skills programme, developing effective and sustainable partnerships with NGOs focused on vocational training and building strong relationships with employers across a range of industries, ensuring that all students completing ISF’s Education Programme will find suitable, sustainable employment that will provide them with the means to support themselves and their families.
Here at ISF, we’re committed to the development of the individual and we're 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’s 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. Just last month, Bunleung relocated to Taiwan to pursue his studies on a scholarship.
As he boarded his flight to Taiwan, his first ever flight, the young student described feeling a mix of emotions; excited and nervous but also a little sad as he had never spent any time away from his family before. But now, speaking to ISF just a few weeks after the move, he tells us that he is settling in well in Taiwan and is delighted to have the chance to study there. He is attending classes for eight hours a day, six days a week and feels confident that his English and Chinese language skills are improving all the time. Bunleng aspires to settle in Taiwan after his degree and make a better living there so he can support his family.
Thanks to your ongoing support, our programmes are continuing to make an impact in the lives of our students and the wider community.
*Names of children under 18 years old have been changed.
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