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.
Ratha, ISF grade-9 graduate
Vuthi, ISF state school student
Some our new students posing at ISF