New projects at Savong School. Can you assist?
Every school in the world is a growing, living organisation – and Savong’s School is no exception. Needs arise and opportunities are recognised, so we have an evolving list of new projects. These focus on the development of the students and teachers, the encouragement of quality involvement by volunteers, and the building of bridges – metaphorically – to assist graduate students to gain further education at university, in trades, or to gain employment. This is the main point of the school.
Meanwhile we have learned that the school has evolved as something of a social agency for young people. For example recently a student came to the Director, Savong, and shared his story which is not untypical in Cambodia. The boy is an orphan, and his grandmother cannot afford the cost of food and clothing, or to spare him to education. (For many families, children need to help on a farm to help meet the family living costs.)
Through his work, Savong has found many students and young people in a similar situation, so aside from the school he has built a small home for orphans – a place where this boy wishes to stay.
In Western countries, a school is a school. But here it is a social agency with a wider role. So new projects here – some of them simply awaiting a cash injection – are ultimately designed to help the families of the students. To have a son or daughter learn language skills and gain a job in Siem Reap is to have a breakthrough for the whole family. Otherwise the door to opportunity remains closed tight.
For the best and the brightest Scholarships to University
What opportunities can we offer the best and brightest students from this rural area? In Cambodia, several universities have now opened and they offer the chance for bright students to gain a degree and a purposeful future.
There is big demand for graduates of course. In Cambodia less than 1% of the adult population have university degrees. For poor rural families however, this dream is unobtainable not just because of the monthly university fees (which by western standards are very low) but because of the total cost of sending a student to university. They need transport, they need books, a laptop computer and they need to meet the costs of being a student – internet and food. A rural family simply cannot support their daughter or son through university study, even if they are smart enough to do well.
At Savong School we are launching a scholarship system that will enable our best students to take the next logical step without placing their families under additional hardship. Degrees in Cambodia start with a one year intermediate course, followed by a three-year bachelors degree programme. The sponsorship cost for a 4 year course of study would be approximately:
- $US 600 for a laptop computer (optional)
- $US 800 annual fees
- $US 200 books
- $US 720 annual cost of living (optional)
- TOTAL FIRST YEAR = $US1000 or up to $US2,320
- TOTAL PER ANNUM – YEAR 2, 3, 4 = $US1,000 or up to $US1,720
That’s between $US4,000 and $US7500 (depending on level of need) over four years to support a student right through university in a manner that will not drain the scarce resources of their family.
One of the barriers to an education town was transport, but thanks to a kind gift to the school of a new tuktuk, we are now able to take a small group of students into Siem Reap each day for their studies.
As of January 2010 examinations were being prepared and the programme was being announced to senior students at the school, and local universities approached to discuss the programme. A short video has been posted on YouTube also (CLICK HERE) and our fund raising has begun.
We’re also putting in place a mentoring system so that scholarship students are not left stranded – but can receive assistance from the teachers: assistance they will not be able to receive from home.
This programme is important because it takes the objectives of the school to the next logical step: to give poor rural students a real foothold for the future. Not all will graduate, for sure, but we’re going to give bright and motivated students as much support as we can to succeed.
Please email us if you are interested in finding out more or sponsoring a student.
Scholarships for Orphans
With the commitment to the care of a family of orphan children, the priority has been to provide their day to day food, shelter, clothing and education. But of course they have longer term needs: the counselling, direction and support to make it in society, once they become adults. One idea is to build for each child a modest bank account and to contribute on an annual basis to the savings of each child. The two ways to help them over the poverty gap are through education, and by providing the basic capital they need to get a start in life – perhaps to buy a motorbike, or to get the the basics they’ll need when they eventually leave school.
Left: Bun Theourn is one of the orphan children. This photo was taken on the day his grandmother’s funeral service, in September 2009 To commemorate her he has had his head shaven just a few hours ago, and he became a monk briefly – a ritual that helps deal with the grief.This photo is taken in front of the crematorium furnace.
On this day Savong helped the family meet the funeral costs, and the fact is, the boy’s family is unable to provide him with the care he needs today, or with the resources he needs for the future.
By setting up a bank account and providing an annual contribution, you can show Bun Theourn that he is not alone, and that people care for him.
Links to Employment in Siem Reap
For a student in the countryside to get a job in the town of Siem Reap they need three things. First, a skill in a foreign language is a major asset, and that’s what Savong’s School sets out to provide.
Second, the student graduate needs contacts. In Cambodia, a divide is opening up between the merchant families of the towns, and the rural families in the country. Many rural families have no links or footholds in town – and come in as strangers, capable of being badly exploited if they even get a job. That’s one area where a school can help.
- Establish networks with trustworthy, supportive businesses in town.
- Have links to skills development organisations in town.
Finally, under present conventions, a propsect employee is often expected to front up with cash for an employer (!) as a kind of bond. This practice simply puts many job opportunities out of reach of rural young people who live a largely subsistence life.
So we are currently exploring ways to establish good ongoing links in town, and also ways to facilitate job placements.