Without a doubt education is vital to improving the lives of children and in turn further developing regions, lifting some of the most vulnerable communities out of poverty. At each of our hubs across our six locations, our charity the FutureSense Foundation works very closely with our partners to ensure that we are sustainably and effectively supporting the communities we work with.
At our hub in Battambang, Cambodia, the FutureSense Foundation hold a partnership with a Cambodian Non-Profit, Children’s Action for Development (CAD). The community-based, non-government organisation has been running since 2006, their main efforts being to reduce child labour and increase education.
CAD work closely with vulnerable children and their families, offering supplementary education classes, vocational skills training and special life skills. The organisation currently focuses on children between the ages of 6 and 16, and are building their program to support early education in ages 3 to 5. They largely support vulnerable families and children in Ek Phnom District, sole parent families, the poorest children and repeat learners (slow learners).
The partnership between FutureSense and CAD formed in 2013 with a focus on improving the Supplementary Education Class (SEC) program. The SEC program aims to close the gap between children who can afford additional schooling, and the children who cannot. We want to see all children accessing quality education and advancing their education towards a successful future and sustainable livelihoods.
The SEC program was initiated by CAD to support children in the Battambang region who were either dropping out or falling behind at school. The program was a way to offer additional support to those who were struggling with the content taught in the government schools they attended. The main target group was children from low income families, many of whom lived below the poverty line, and many students who were classified as slow learners at the schools. These children were unable to access additional learning support and often dropped out of the education system all together.
With the support of FutureSense, the program now runs at 3 centres and reaches 380 children. It is run two times a day in both the mornings and the afternoons. This is because primary school students spend half a day at their government school and the SEC program offers additional support to the lessons, they received but in the opposite time of the day. The SEC staff teach the students and report back exam scores and student's educational outcomes back to the Ministry of Education.
Each child receives 3 hours of supplementary education support every day, which covers many subjects from Khmer through to English, following the Cambodian government curriculum. FutureSense specifically supports the program in the areas of conversational English, creative arts, STEM, environmental sustainability and the promotion of better health hygiene including nutrition and areas around girls’ health. Our volunteers are a crucial part of this support, delivering educational workshops for the children at CAD that address these areas. In addition to providing support directly to the children, FutureSense also supports the development of teacher capacity through teacher training sessions.
The SEC program has proven to be highly successful and benefits the children and entire community of the Ek Phnom District. It has continued to be a highly efficient program that provides community-based and educational support to students and their families. Over the six years of collaboration, together the FutureSense Foundation and CAD have provided 1800 scholarships for students to receive free access to additional education support. In addition to supporting the learning and development programs for the children and building the capacity of the teaching staff at CAD, the FutureSense Foundation fully funds the running of the Supplementary Education Centers to enable 380 children to receive free supplementary education each year
Sustainability is fundamentally important for us and it is a key focus in all program development efforts. There are several areas that have been built into the SEC program to make this sustainable for the community. Through regular teacher training, we aims to build capacity with local teachers to improve the overall quality of education. We work with families of the children and through the workshops on education and health that our volunteers help deliver, we seek to increase engagement within the wider community.
It is difficult to keep primary students engaged in supplemental learning outside their free governmental school education unless their families pay for it. There are still many children, especially in the Ek Phnom district that are still missing out on much needed schooling and often those children struggle to advance out of primary. This is why we want to continue to develop and build the relationship so that as we grow and build, we can expand our reach to engage more than the current number of children.
Our volunteers are a crucial part of the educational support we offer our community in Battambang, and without them we wouldn't be able to reach the number of children that we do. If you would like to make an impact on education quality in Cambodia, check out our 2021 volunteer opportunities.