Creating an environment that fosters community, friendship, and support, our schools provide children and adolescents growing up in slum communities access to the same essential opportunities as any other youth including:
The four community-based schools we operate are at the center of our work and have been set up in partnership with the local communities to offer refuge for like-minded young people looking to improve their lives.
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Aziza Thmey/MAS School
Our first school, Aziza, opened in 2006 in the historic White Building. Following the closing of the school in 2017 due to the demotion of the White Building, we opened Aziza Thmey (New Aziza) in Sangkat Chak Angre Krom, a large slum community where new migrants settle. We also opened Aziza MAS in our office to allow many of the original Aziza students to continue studying.
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Seeing the opportunity to replicate the EYC model, staff from Aziza started Lakeside School, in 2008, in the Sangkat Boeung Kok community. The school’s name was chosen because of the fact that the community was once located next to a lake that provided people with sustenance and jobs. Those living around Lakeside are among the last remaining groups following evictions of 3,500 families in 2008.
Student volunteers from Lakeside School started Youth School in 2009 to share their experiences and talent and give back to the community. Youth School is located in Sangkat Toul Sangke, a slum shantytown where a large number of migrants settled informally after the war.
With the support of the community, the EYC team opened Impact School in 2011 in Klaing Saing Village, a slum community. Shaded by bougainvillea trees, Impact is located in a wonderful house that was vacated to allow us to transform it into a school.
Serving over 1,000 students daily, EYC’s four community-based schools provide Core Programming for students from primary school to university.
English & Computer Classes
English and computer classes are a core component of EYC’s educational outreach. The better vocational jobs require basic English and/or computer skills. However, Cambodian public schools only offer English for two hours per week starting in middle school, and the only time the majority of EYC students touch a computer is in our labs.
Over 50 English classes are taught daily (M-F) serving roughly 1,000 students ranging in age from primary students to young adults.
We also teach over 30 computer classes daily (M-F) to more than 300 students, and our computer labs are open during non-class hours. These labs provide an opportunity to learn basic technology skills and access the internet for ongoing learning. There are also a number of educational games available to the students to assist them with basic literacy and numeracy, as well as skills such as typing and research.
Our teachers are all local Khmer. We have Western volunteers who assist our Khmer teachers with the classes and also help improve our teaching methodologies.
Without the free English and computer education provided by EYC, good jobs or university would not be an option for many of our students.
Due to the fact that very few homes in our communities have books, we operate libraries at each school in order to give children the resources and encouragement needed to develop an affinity for reading at a young age. The books rotate between schools, and community members or school managers handle the process of ensuring all of our children have access to books in both Khmer and English.
It is heartening to see the many students quietly reading alone or with friends before and after their English classes.
While exercise is not a part of the culture for many Cambodians, the benefits of exercise for both physical and mental health can be life-changing. EYC’s sports program provides our students with a chance to get healthy, reduce stress, build confidence, and also enjoy a little time out from their lives in the slum communities. Sports help to keep students from dropping out of school and also provide a positive peer group that is an alternative to gangs and violence.
Over 200 students participate annually in Cycling, Football, Yoga, Ultimate Frisbee, Swimming, Dance, and Jujitsu.
The students have fun while building a sense of belonging and friendship with their peers and coaches. Seeing a child’s face after their first goal or mountain bike ride is priceless.
ART & MUSIC
Art and Music are not offered in Cambodian public schools. Through weekly piano, guitar, flute, and singing classes, along with various art programs incorporated into the English classes, we give our students exposure to a variety of art forms.
Music and Art offer children a different way to express themselves and interact with the world around them. Broadening their perspectives not only helps them to think in new ways but also brings joy, happiness, and confidence.
Through volunteers and partner organizations, we also provide concerts in the communities, and our children have the opportunity to perform for community members at annual school parties.
Within the communities, we work, medical, dental, and social services are very limited. This lack of access causes many treatable health issues to go unchecked.
In addition to regular health and hygiene training, each school has a medical clinic that is open to the community for two hours per week. These clinics host approximately 3,000 patient-doctor consultations annually and are provided by EYC’s medical team and partners, comprised of part-time medical professionals and medical student volunteers.
Through a partner organization, all EYC students have access to dental services. Roughly 2,000 appointments occur annually for everything from cleanings to fillings to extractions to root canals.
Working with clinics supported by partner organizations, we help women access much-needed family planning methods and information. Our team teaches and promotes birth control for the women in our communities, as well as other locations where people have been displaced or relocated.
To develop a sense of responsibility along with a culture of giving back, our students organize and attend various community service projects. These include community cleanups, awareness campaigns on environmental and social issues, school painting days, and end of year celebration parties.
These community service activities provide a meaningful way for our high school and university students to develop important leadership and life skills.
In addition to our Core Programming, we go deeper with Targeted Programming for students in need of additional support as well as high-performing students who have the aptitude and desire to further themselves and become leaders in the community.
Many of our students either have to drop-out of high school to help support their families or are not able to afford the cost of additional schooling. Approximately 15% of our high school and university students (40-50 per year) receive scholarship assistance from EYC.
The scholarship program supports these young people in their pursuit of the higher education needed to reach their dreams and become role models for other youth in their schools and communities.
To be eligible, students must demonstrate they are leaders and potential change-makers for their school, family, community, and nation. 90% of scholarship recipients are volunteer Team Leaders lending a hand to others who need their support while demonstrating the culture of giving back that permeates EYC.
High School Scholarships provide:
- Tutoring in mathematics and science. Many of the public schools do not provide adequate teaching to pass the national state exam necessary for university entry. Without adequate teaching, the students are at risk of not being able to continue their education.
- Money to replace the loss of family income when a student resumes their schooling. Many of our students have had to drop out of public school to support their families. Continuing their education can put a strain on their family’s financial situation.
- Private high school tuition. The education available at the private schools far exceeds that in public schools, thereby opening more doors to a more secure and viable future.
University Scholarships provide:
- First-year tuition at university. In addition to financial assistance, we provide the highest level of support during the first year of university in order to help the students smoothly transition to the challenges and rigor of university life.
- A portion of university fees in second through fourth years. Older students are expected to get a part-time job and be able to contribute some money to EYC in order to help other students access future scholarship opportunities. Note: some of this is managed via a long payment plan which students repay over time.
- Tutoring in English. This is provided to help students improve their English proficiency beyond what is offered in EYC’s core English classes.
Room & Board Scholarships provide:
- A safe place to live while attending high school or university. Many of our students have no home or are from the provinces where there are no schools. Two to five students live at each school rent-free. This provides them with a roof over their heads as well as safety and security while they work to better their lives.
LEADERSHIP & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
EYC provides multiple options for scholarship students to participate in additional learning, training, and leadership development opportunities to help them recognize the power they have within themselves to make positive change in their lives and communities. These opportunities range from a Leadership Adventure Camp to media training to creative writing workshops to field trips (e.g. biking to cultural locations or visits to the Killing Fields).
In addition, we run a leadership training program for Team Leaders who are youth volunteers practicing their leadership skills (e.g., leading all sports programming) through school and community service projects. We also hold monthly sessions to encourage critical thinking, self-confidence, gender equality, solidarity and other relevant topics for today’s youth.
JOB TRAINING & PLACEMENT
Due to the fact that most of our students do not have family members or mentors with interviewing experience or expertise in job preparedness, they are often at a disadvantage when they go to apply for a job.
Along with providing connections for internships and part-time job placement, the basic interviewing skills and resume developing opportunities we offer are critical for our students. In addition, EYC develops partnerships with businesses to place students in volunteer, intern, and full-time positions.
Our staff and teachers do more than teach English. They work closely with the communities to help address the challenges of slum life that our students face on a daily basis, including pressure to drop out of school, eviction/loss of housing, hygiene, and drugs/violence.
EYC’s Social Work Program identifies the vulnerable and at-risk students at each school and develops a targeted support plan for those students. Plans include:
- One-on-one counseling support for at-risk students
- Regular home visits to assess the family situation
- Intervention plans focused on conflict resolution, positive parenting, and problem-solving
- Outreach to the communities
EYC has formed strong partnerships with a number of organizations, businesses and individuals in Cambodia and throughout the world, allowing us to expand our reach and scope at a lower cost.
Our partners provide invaluable expertise, experience, and services at no or low cost and are critical parts of our education, health, sports, scholarship and job placement programs. In addition, they provide training and support to our staff to allow us to constantly improve our teaching methodology and programming.
"As the city-scape of Phnom Penh changes, there is a constant in the landscape. That constant is EYC. The vision of EYC for the children, the youth, the young adults, and adults, is far-reaching despite the challenges, transcending the social and socio-economic boundaries and barriers. How does any one person be part of the next generation who will make a difference in our global world? Whether one is from Cambodia or America, part of the answer is education."
- Iva, USA