Our Second School
In conjunction with World Assistance for Cambodia, a nonprofit organization that has overseen the construction of over 550 schools in Cambodia, Global Playground has built an eight-classroom school for middle school students in the country’s Kandal Province. Global Playground contributed $13,500 to the project; the Asian Development Bank contributed the remainder in matching funds. The school is maintained by the Cambodian Ministry of Education.
World Assistance for Cambodia works to develop educational opportunities in rural parts of Cambodia and to increase access to medical care.
Koh Khel Middle School is located along the Bassac River in the Kandal Province of Cambodia. Students from four main villages attend Koh Khel–Prek Keo, Koh Khel, Tep Orchoun, and Prek Pang. The primary occupations in Koh Khel include farming rice, mangos, and corn and working in garment factories 40 kilometers away in Phnom Penh. During Mao’s reign in China, many Chinese people fled to the Kandal province of Cambodia and many students are Chinese-blooded Khmer.
Since its opening in March 2009, Koh Khel Middle School has become one of the best schools in the province. Fourteen teachers currently serve 205 students. With a 98% graduation rate in 2014 (52% female), it has the highest graduation rate in the region.
The State of Education
In Cambodia, an estimated 40% of the total population of 15 million is under the age of 18. Given the country’s relatively young population, education plays a pivotal role in its development. In a typical public school, two class sessions are held daily; a child attends school either in the morning or afternoon for four hours per day. High demand for education is partly due to the Cambodian government’s promise of providing free education. Although many attend school, according to recent reports, only 74% of the total population is literate with an even lower literacy rate of 64% for females.¹
In recent years, most parts of Southeast Asia have experienced rapid development. Although development continues, AIDS, child trafficking, and extreme poverty continue to hamper the region’s growth. Cambodia, in particular, suffers from extreme poverty. Nearly one in two children show signs of malnourishment.
In Southeast Asia, education remains one of the most effective means of combating these problems. Yet, various barriers prevent children, especially those living in rural areas, from attending school. These barriers include a limited number of rural schools, poor roads, lack of transportation, undrinkable water, and few dormitories. The government is only able to spend minimally on education, and the school age population is growing rapidly. The Cambodian Ministry of Education needs help expanding after being squandered under Pol Pot’s regime. In order to resist opposition, Pol Pot ordered the death of all educated Cambodians and a reported 90% of Cambodia’s teachers were killed, thus severely stunting the education system. With the support of local governments, local NGOs, and the private sector, it is possible that one day every child will be able to receive an education.2
- 1. United Nations Children’s Fund. (2000-2004)
- 2. “Cambodia: Education Sector Support Project.” The World Bank. (2013).
Cambodia fun facts!
Cambodia’s modern culture has its roots in the Khmer Empire, celebrated for its flourishing performing arts and world-renowned temples. Today, Cambodia continues these traditions, once only accessible to royalty, throughout their society, and has a thriving tourist industry.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is a Southeast Asian country of 15 million people whose Khmer dance, architecture, and sculpture are the nation’s pride and joy. Civil war and corruption have made growth difficult over the past 30 years, but an influx of assistance from organizations such as the Asian Development Bank are helping to provide much-needed infrastructure.3
3. “Cambodia Facts.” National Geographic. (2015).
Did You Know?
Angkor Wat is the largest religious building in the world, and one of the oldest, estimated to have been built in 1200AD. Nearby, the Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and expands to over three times its normal size during Cambodia’s rainy season.4
4. “Tonlé Sap.” Facts and Details. (2014).