This Life in Schools
This is an important program because it helps strengthen each community’s capacity to help students and increases the resources available. I feel proud to work for This Life In Schools and inspired to help the younger generation of children in Cambodia who want to learn and continue their education like I was able to do.
Oeur Saloeurn, LSSDP Project Officer
Ask most Cambodians what they want for their children, and they’ll probably answer “a good education” immediately. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that every year in rural Cambodia, hundreds of thousands of bright, optimistic young children drop out of school before they turn 14, because the secondary schools near them aren’t good enough and the pressures of poverty are too great.
Our This Life In Schools program has been tried and tested over many years as a way of revitalising and redeveloping secondary schools. We work with the School Principal and existing school structures like the School Support Committee (a body of people from within the local area, including parents) and the Student Council. When all of these bodies are fully operational and motivated, the whole community, teaching team and student body work together to support the school to regenerate, redevelop, recruit better staff and fundraise for improved facilities.
This program has a strict three year duration, after which we exit. In every case we have seen drop out rates fall, exam pass rates climb and the number of students increase, and these results have continued long after we left.
What is the aim of the program?
To improve access to and quality of education by engaging community members in school development.
What activities do we run?
- We conduct Community Driven Dialogue community consultations in target Communes with teachers and students.
- We mobilise SSC, provide training, support regular monthly SSC meetings and organise one school exchange visit and one annual reflection visit for SSC members of each school.
- We mobilise SC, provide training, support regular monthly SC meetings and organise a school exchange visit.
- We support SSC to undertake school development planning, follow up on SDP activities, involve SCs and local authorities, and provide one annual reflection meeting for SSC members.
- We provide training to school teachers and directors, organise learning clubs, provide financial support, conduct education campaigns, revise school regulations and disseminate updates to students, conduct meetings with parents and conduct regular home visits.
- We support Women’s and Child’s Rights days with community level events.
- We support Commune Committee For Women And Children meetings and provide training to members, conduct Local Authority Practice Exchange Visits and Local Authority Reflection sessions.
- We undertake research to better understand the root causes of students dropping out of school or having poor attendance and to identify potential strategies to mitigate identified causes.
What are the program outcomes?
- School Support Committees (SSC) and Student Councils (SC) are mobilised to lead school development initiatives with the support of the wider community.
- Children and their families feel supported by their community to continue to access their right to public education.
- Activities in School Development Plans are integrated into Commune Investment Plans via involvement of key stakeholders in development of commune level Annual Operational Plans.
- School environments visibly improve including infrastructure, safety and the creation of inspiring learning environments.
- Enrollment and learning performance increases and drop out rates decrease year on year during the program implementation period.
- District and province-wide networks are strengthened to support sharing knowledge and mobilisation of resources for school development.
- Issues affecting school attendance such as migration are better understood as a result of research findings.
- 80.6% of Cambodian children complete primary school but only 40% complete lower secondary school
- 17% of children drop out of lower secondary school
- 30.35% is the decrease in dropout rates across the eleven lower secondary schools in which we operate our program