Author Archives: Michael Kern

Permalink to XO Laptop Program Successfully Enters Its Second Year

XO Laptop Program Successfully Enters Its Second Year

The XO is not a “traditional” laptop used as a tool to get things done. It also is not a tool to “just” play games. Rather it can be viewed as a tool that familiarizes children with some of the technology and features used in “traditional” laptops while building knowledge and critical thinking skills. The XO software encourages users to learn through exploration and expression. It engages children in acquiring knowledge based on their interests and allows them to utilize built-in technologies to share and critique their work.

When the Cambodian NGO P.R.I.D.E. (a partner of One Laptop per Child [OLPC]), donated 25 XO laptops to EYC last September, we immediately were excited about the opportunity to enhance the learning experience and foster the technical and information acquiring skills of our younger students via the XO laptop.

The XO was designed and built especially for children in developing countries. It features a screen that is readable under direct sunlight, is energy efficient, and tolerates the high temperatures and humidity of Cambodia. Moreover, it comes complete with a keyboard that has Khmer language character and some software supporting Khmer.

After receiving these laptops we developed and implemented an XO class held thrice a week at our Aziza school for students between 9 and 14 years of age. Given the students’ excitement and learning progress through this program we are now in the process of offering the XO program to students at our Youth School and if enough XO laptops can be obtained, at all EYC schools.

Our students love learning and gaining their first computer experiences with this device. As 10-year old XO student Kirng  Sophy told his teacher, “I like to learn with the XO. Now I know some programs. When I know how to use new programs I feel so happy”.

What excites us most about offering the XOs to our students is the focus on self-directed learning. I firmly believe and have personally observed how it improves a young student’s critical thinking skills and simultaneously fosters empowerment; thus directly supporting EYC’s objectives. Cambodia’s wealthier children often have this type of access, and hopefully soon all interested children in the poor communities EYC serves will have too.

For general program or technical information you may contact Kunthy Teng, our IT Manager at

Permalink to EYC Helps Combat and Educate on Gender Inequalities

EYC Helps Combat and Educate on Gender Inequalities

EYC was delighted to send six of our staff and students to attend a seminar on Gender and Behavior Changes facilitated by GADC (Gender and Development Cambodia); a local NGO promoting gender equality as a “basic human right necessary for Cambodia’s social, economic, and political development”.

Following their experiences and knowledge gained, these participants did their own training for EYC students on gender issues and developed a training class that was conducted over eight sessions at Aziza school, covering topics on Sex & Gender, Gender in Cambodia, Gender-based Violence, and Protection of Women’s Rights.

In the 2010 Global Gender Assessment conducted by USAID, in which the agency measured broad inequalities between women and men (Gender Gap Score), Cambodia placed 104th of 134 countries. The Gender Empowerment Measure (representing women’s political and economic participation) of the same assessment placed Cambodia 83rd of 93 countries.

The goal of this knowledge sharing initiative was to reduce gender-based violence in our target communities and to encourage girls to assume more leadership roles in our schools in addition to helping them to be more empowered and comfortable with openly discussing gender-based stereotypes and injustices.

As a result of this training class students worked together on creating a poster delivering their personal message and position against gender inequalities. Ms. Syneoun, a former student and team leader at Aziza and the course’s facilitator shared, “I was thrilled to participate in the gender training. It is important to improve youth’s concept about stopping violence based on gender and value women at the community level”.

It is encouraging to see how our students are increasingly becoming aware of wide-spread issues affecting their country and are showing self-driven initiative by taking an active role in developing their countries starting at the community level.

We are currently working on replicating this training at our other schools.

Permalink to EYCycling Team Looking for Sponsors

EYCycling Team Looking for Sponsors

EYC’s youth cycling program, “EYCycling” takes top placements at races and is looking for sponsors.

The EYC cycling team (EYCycling) is currently shopping for sponsors at all levels to allow its members to compete at races and pay for the cost of bike maintenance and gear.

The EYCycling team is the latest activity in EYC’s sports program. The team’s fifteen? highly active members are students at the EYC schools and vividly display team work and sportsmanship during their weekly group rides and as participants at bike races across Cambodia.

While EYCycling’s objectives are to promote a healthy lifestyle and bike safety, reduce traffic congestion and noise/air pollution, the members’ competitive nature and thirst for achievement is evident in the twelve top-3 placements the team achieved in races during the first half of this year (in 4 categories).

Since this student initiative is only partially funded by EYC, the team is currently searching for additional corporate/organizational sponsorship to offset the cost of safety gear, bike maintenance, and participation at races.

Depending on the level of sponsorship, sponsors will have their logo or name printed on the team jerseys, race banners, as well as other marketing outlets.

Mr. Heab Sok Huoch can be contacted at for additional information.

Permalink to EYC Launches Job Training and Placement Program

EYC Launches Job Training and Placement Program

A new program steps up placement of students into internship and paid positions with businesses and organizations throughout Phnom Penh.

With Cambodia having the youngest population in Southeast Asia it is no surprise that high youth unemployment rates remain a pressing issue for many of our students. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) 700 youth enter the labor market in Cambodia every day and compete for the very few opportunities available. While observations ‘on the ground’ show that the reasons for the high youth unemployment are rather complex, there is consensus that improvements in literacy, education, and relevant skills are pertinent for securing steady and sustainable employment.

EYC started our Job Placement Program in April 2012, and has seen great results in a short time. At the core of this program is Mr. Sophea Sor, the program’s coordinator, who establishes and fosters relationships between EYC and local businesses/organizations in order to place qualified and motivated students in internships or paid positions. We are proud to announce that eleven students were placed in internship positions in the first three months. Of those eleven interns, two were offered permanent employment within the first month of their internship. An additional eight students were placed in part time  jobs this year (cleaner, English teacher, and waitress), allowing them to continue their education.

To help EYC’s students be more marketable and successful in their employment search we developed and implemented a comprehensive Job Training Program, which will build on the education EYC is providing to give them marketable skills. The first training class enrolled a total of 48 students across all EYC schools and was held on weekends at the Aziza and Youth Schools

The curriculum focused on finding and analyzing job announcements, cover letters and CV writing, as well interviewing and “how to be a good and productive employee”. We didn’t only want to help our students compete in the job selection processes but also aid them in being an invaluable asset to future employees.

The result is students’ opportunity to apply their freshly-gained knowledge in a “real world scenario”, excel in their internship or employment position, and pave the road for future EYC Job Training graduates to find jobs with the same organization(s). The six week program also included attending the annual Phnom Penh Career Forum and guest speakers such as Nokia’s Sales & Marketing Manager for Cambodia.

Mr. Sophea will conduct monthly follow-up meetings with the graduating class as well as the placed students and their respective managers to ensure ongoing support and the continuous improvement of this program.

EYC plans to offer the Job Training class three times a year and is looking to expand the curriculum to include more professional development topics such as stress, anger, time, and communications management.

Permalink to Community Garbage Clean-Up

Community Garbage Clean-Up

EYC’s Community Organizing Committee raises awareness about how waste management affects their community and conducts a garbage clean-up in one of Phnom Penh’s “slums”.

EYC’s Development and Community Organizing Officer, Ms. Hem Nareth, successfully organized and lead the third garbage clean-up initiative at the “Building Community” in Phnom Penh; the run-down residential building blocks where the Aziza school is located.

This half-day program was divided into three parts:

  1. Creating awareness
  2. The physical clean-up
  3. Post-activity reflection

As part of ‘creating awareness’ the group focused on and illustrated three consequences of improper waste management to the community: The health risks to residents, their reputation/image as perceived by others, and how improving conditions can help stop forced evictions that may be looming.

Given some of the forced evictions and associated hardship experienced by multiple Phnom Penh communities in recent years, the last point resonated strongly with community residents when the community organizing group rallied people with megaphones. Hearing the carefully crafted messages, residents opened their doors and sent their children out to help, resulting in over 100 people joining the effort.

Garbage has long been a problem in this community but has been significantly improved since our community organizing team has put their efforts on this.  Last year a massive clean-up cleared a staircase that had been filled with garbage far beyond usability.  This year we could focus on raising awareness and cleaning smaller pockets of garbage.  Cleaning crews also scrubbed indoor surfaces with soap and water, bringing cheer to old hallways and stairways.

After properly disposing of the collected waste, volunteers, residents, and the village chief met to discuss and reflect on the day’s activities and underlying importance of changing their behavior in this matter. Organizers plan to make signs and art to send a clear message about proper garbage disposal.

In addition to the other services we provide through the Aziza school, EYC is pleased that we could use this opportunity to further engage the community to be active participants in building a better community.

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