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Cambodia: Program Inspires Students to Dream Big

January 10, 2010

  • Under the program, students, especially poor girls and ethnic minority children, receive scholarships ranging from US$45 to US$60 per year to support their studies.

January 11, 2010 — Meas Sokhunthea, a shy 8th grade student at Preah An Kosa secondary school in Siem Reap town, has wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl. “With the scholarship that I’ve been given and my mom’s strong support for my studies, I believe I will reach my goal,” she said.

Sokhunthea is one of 36,000 lower-secondary and primary students who received scholarships through a component of the Education Sector Support Project (ESSP), which is financed by the World Bank in Cambodia. Under the program, students will receive scholarships ranging from US$45 to US$60 per year to support their study. Sokhunthea got US$45, which she used to buy her uniform, books, pen and her school bag. Sokhunthea thanks the program because it helps to reduce her mother’s financial burden of buying her school materials.

Her schoolmate, Cheng Sopheap, who received US$60, said the money is helping him to concentrate on his studies. He said it makes him less worried about finding money to buy school materials. Sopheap has three brothers and a sister; all of them are in school. “If there is no support, I won’t be here because my parents are very poor,” he said.

In a classroom at Borkeo secondary school in Borkeo district, around 25 km from Ratanakiri provincial town, another 9th grade scholarship recipient, Pov Theary, has been given a scholarship for grades 7, 8 and 9. Each school year she gets $60. Like most of other scholarship students, Theary uses the scholarship money to buy books, uniforms, and a bicycle, and the rest she gives to her mom for buying food for the family.

Theary had been asked by her mom to quit school when she finished grade 6 because her family could not support her continuing schooling.

“When she passed grade 6, I asked her to quit school because I don’t have money to support her and I have to look after my old parents,” her mother, Pov Loth, said. “I am alone, with no husband. It has been difficult. I couldn’t support her to continue to study. The school is far. I had no money to buy a bicycle for her as well as to pay for her school uniforms and school materials. I remember, Theary looked so sad and worried. I really sympathized with her. Luckily she got a scholarship.”
Like Sokhunthea and perhaps many students, Theary’s end-goal is to be a teacher. “I want to be a teacher because I like it and I see that there are not enough teachers in my community.”