Education in Cambodia was traditionally offered by the wats (Buddhist temples), thus providing education exclusively for the male population. The 1917 Law on Education passed by the French colonial government introduced a basic primary and secondary education system modeled loosely on that of France. However, that new system was fundamentally elitist, reaching only a very small per cent of the indigenous population and functioning mainly as a means of training civil servants for colonial service throughout French Indochina.

As soon as they had come to power in 1975 the Khmer Rouge abolished education, systematically destroying teaching materials, textbooks and publishing houses. Schools and universities were closed and their buildings put to other uses. During this period large numbers of qualified teachers, researchers and technicians either fled the country or died.

When the new Cambodian government came to power in 1979 it had to completely reconstruct the entire education system. Pre-school, primary and secondary schools were first to reappear, followed by non-formal education for adults and a network of colleges and universities.

The constitution of Cambodia now promulgates free compulsory education for nine years, guaranteeing the universal right to basic quality education. The Cambodian education system is heavily decentralized, with three levels of government – central, provincial and district – responsible for its management. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for establishing national policies and guidelines.

The education system in Cambodia continues to be beset by many difficulties, including an acute shortage of qualified teaching staff, poor morale due to low salary levels and lack of suitable teaching materials. Attendance at school remains limited in rural areas since children are often expected to stay at home and help their families in the fields. In the 1998 Census adult literacy rates were estimated at 76.25 per cent for men and 45.98 per cent for women. Cambodia still has a low participation rate in higher education, with just 1.2 per cent of the population enrolled, compared with an average of 20.7 per cent in all the ASEAN countries.

Then in March 2010, United Brother Association was formed to provide free education to the children in the slums of Phnom Penh city, rural communities and is one of the non-governmental organizations in Cambodia working to provide quality education to the underprivileged children of Cambodia.. Since then, the organization has grown both in scope and geographical coverage. In line with its vision, the United Brothers Association has incessantly advocated for improving the quality and access to Education in Cambodia. The United Brothers Association has provided free education to students in some regions. Many of these students intend to expand their Basic English skills such as Speaking and Writing. Nonetheless, their limited capability to connect to the outside world has curtailed a full experience of real education in the region. In a shift to take the Utility of technology in the region to the next level, the United Brothers Association will be establishing a state of the art computer learning center as an entrance point to the world of technology for students and communities in some region affected badly. The organization is also partnering with some select provinces to help promote technology and internet connectivity. The United Brother Association will be donating laptops to the Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and the partnering Schools. Today, we reach out to Thousands of children living in both rural and urban areas through a range of interventions. All our programs are designed to ensure that:

-          Enrollment in schools increases.

-          Learning in schools and communities increases.

-          The education net reaches children who are unable to attend school.

-          Models are replicated and scaled up to serve large numbers of children to achieve a large scale impact.

United Brothers Association firmly believes in working with the government to bring about large scale change and therefore our programs are aimed at supplementing rather than replacing governmental efforts and are working in close collaboration with the municipal authorities. We also work with the school systems and communities to plan and implement our programs. Thousands of volunteers, mainly women, belonging to the same communities as the children work with us to implement the interventions at the grassroots. These volunteers are mobilised, trained and monitored by the UBA team and are also provided with Teacher Learning Material and books developed by UBA. This not only ensures more effective implementation of our programs, but also helps build capacities at the grassroots for providing quality education to the children. Empowerment of women, especially from economically weaker sections of society and from minority religious groups is often cited as one of UBA’s most significant contributions to the communities in which it intervenes. These young women benefit not only in terms of capacity building with regard to additional employable skills like teacher training, managing the local program/ enterprise, communication etc. but most importantly, confidence building and increased respect and acceptance in the local community.  United Brothers Association has also become a powerful voice in the area of educational reform. Our senior team leaders are members of important policy making bodies both at the Central and State levels, including the Governing Council of some Private schools in Cambodia. The United Brothers Association team comprises of educationists, development professionals, media personnel, corporate professionals, consultants, who all bring their experiences and perspectives to the organization and are unified by the common vision of improving the future of Cambodian children.

We will welcome any organizations who want or may wish to partner with us to provide good education to Cambodian Children. Donations are also welcomed.

 

CHEA SOPHANY

President, United Brothers Association

Phnom Penh Cambodia

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