Educating children in rural areas
nursery, primary and secondary school students.
Rural village in the province of Siemreap, 40 km from the world-famous temples of Angkor and at the foot of Phnom Kulen, a sacred place of Buddhism
Health crisis: staying close to the most vulnerable families.
Cambodia has been strongly impacted by COVID. When the tourism market was at a standstill, Ta Pen almost fell into a survival economy. The Ta Pen school, like all those in the country, was closed for 18 months. But so that the children did not only return to work in the fields, home lessons were organized by the Don du Chœur team, thanks to a wonderful teaching staff. Lessons took place in small groups of 10 students, with the delivery of small meal baskets every day, for 18 months. This kept the children alert. And when the school reopened, 90% of the students came back. Great result for a school in a rural environment!
Ta Pen. In this isolated rural village, in the heart of the Cambodian forest, 150 families live in precarious conditions: lack of drinking water, impractical access, houses on stilts with only one room. These families, illeterate for over several generations, have five children on average and survive by working in the fields.
Build a school to welcome the children of Ta Pen from early childhood to the end of secondary school, so that they can receive the basics of an education and acquire knowledge in hygiene and health. Allow them to continue their studies at the nearest high school or at a vocational training centre. Help them find their way and empower them in their academic or professional life.
The school built by Chamrong LO, a former Cambodian refugee in Switzerland and funded by Don du Chœur, now caters for 550 students aged 6 to 20. It has as many girls as boys and is in its 13th school year. Five years after the opening of their nursery and primary school, Ta Pen inaugurated a middle school that can accommodate 120 children. Don du Chœur is responsible for the management, operation and maintenance of the school. The State provides pedagogical management and the recruitment of teachers. To improve the quality of education, Don du Chœur has set a maximum number of 35 students per class, which leads it to have two classes per level, and to give salary allowances to state teachers. The association also recruits teachers so that there are courses in all subjects. In addition, it finances extra lessons for pupils in difficulty, higher education for primary school teachers and continuing education for trainee teachers. Career days are organized in Ta Pen to raise awareness of opportunities for the future among all students in the surrounding colleges.
The school has become the pride of the village.
Participating in and winning the reading competition, attending summer camps, gaining medals in sports competitions, participating in the Angkor Marathon, visiting other villages to promote education… Beyond the school curriculum, a whole series of activities enriches the project and makes the inhabitants proud.
Secondary school studies: a springboard to the future !
It goes without saying that quality counts in education and the better their secondary education is, the better children will succeed and acquire a taste for learning. Today, 134 pupils from Ta Pen junior high school have received their leaving certificates. With that success under their belts, 80% of them have gone on either to senior high school or into a professional training course. It is a wonderful result, but we need to ensure the follow up! Currently, the classrooms at Ta Pen are full to overflowing. But thanks to the proceeds from the Don du Choeur concert on 1 May 2023 earmarked for Cambodia (60,000 CHF), the construction of a new building with three extra classrooms can begin. It will be finished for the start of the new school year in January 2024.
Among the first students who were enrolled at the Ta Pen school in 2010, some are now graduates of the Sala Baï Hotel and Restaurant School, renowned for the training of high-level chefs. At the beginning, they did not even know their surname! Coming from extremely poor families, it was a struggle to come to school.
Once they graduated from Ta Pen junior high school, they went to live in town, took the entrance exam to Sala Baï to train to be a chef, then alternated theoretical and practical classes in the big hotels of Siem Reap. They obtained their diploma from the Ministries of Labor and Vocational Training and of Tourism. What a magnificent achievement! Other students have obtained professional certificates in electricity and computer science and now have stable jobs. Others are enrolled at the University of Phnom Penh.
Help us train more high school students!