Strong and trusted partnerships with other organizations and funders are a cornerstone of EYC’s success as they expose our students to opportunities that have the potential to transform their lives. The value of such partners has taken on increasing importance over this past year. With COVID-19, the impact of the digital divide – the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not – has become even more stark. Thanks to a partnership with SabaiCode, grants from U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, and support from MatesAbroad, EYC is working to mitigate that impact.
The only way for Cambodia to move up in the labor force food chain is to upskill its people . . .
– Piseth Leng, Sabai Code
What is Sabai Code?
Founded by Piseth Leng, a Cambodian living and working in the U.S., and Sareuon Soum, a Cambodian trained as a computer engineer, SabaiCode is a coding and robotics school in Phnom Penh that aims to develop the next generation of Cambodian leaders in technology and innovation, empowering every Cambodian child with powerful technology skills utilizing a U.S.-based curriculum. According to Piseth, “The only way for Cambodia to move up in the labor force food chain is to upskill its people . . . especially in the field of computer science. Clearly, Cambodia needs to move away from low-paid agriculture or garment manufacturing to higher-paid electronics and software development industries. To do that, we have to invest in teaching our kids early on in the field of computer science.”
While SabaiCode is a for-profit company, the team is committed to ensuring that its curriculum is available to ALL students in Cambodia. Aware of EYC’s strong reputation as a professional and successful NGO, SabaiCode approached EYC to partner on delivering computer science courses to EYC students at a reduced cost.
Opening Doors through STEM Education
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, EYC had recognized the need to expand our existing computer curriculum with STEM programs to better prepare our students for the use of I.T. in their studies and future jobs. At the same time, we were committed to only expanding into new programming when we had a source of funding that would cover an expanded pilot phase and rollout
In learning more about U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh’s Public Affairs Section annual small grant program, which looks to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Cambodia through cultural and exchange programming that highlights shared values and promotes bilateral cooperation, we discovered that we shared an interest in creating access to STEM education for Cambodian youth. We have been fortunate to receive two grants from U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh in support of this endeavor. These funds allow EYC to take advantage of the opportunity with Sabai Code and build our inventory of laptops, which significantly increases our ability to get computers in the hands of our students. In addition, MatesAbroad, a long-time partner, is also contributing grant money to the program for additional train-the-trainer classes to help ensure the sustainability of the program. Click here to read more about our partnership with MatesAbroad.
Last year, as part of a small pilot program, five of our students (three boys and two girls) joined an introductory coding class with SabaiCode. This very successful pilot program featured a final competition, and two of the EYC students won the overall competition, beating out 18 other competitors! Their win is especially remarkable as the majority of our students have never touched a computer before coming to EYC. Additionally, these female students have continued on to more advanced courses and are currently doing paid internships for SabaiCode.
Building on the success of the pilot program, over the last year, we have…
- Run additional classes with more students across our four schools,
- Started a Train-the-Trainer program whereby EYC staff and students, through SabaiCode mentorship, become the trainers delivering introductory STEM classes in all EYC schools to expose students at a young age. This Train-the-Trainer program is emblematic of the sustainable and generative approach we take to our programming.
Our goal is to provide ongoing STEM programming to more EYC students across all ages, developing their technical skills, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
Currently, we have multiple students applying for SabaiCode’s advanced one-year Full-Stack Coding Bootcamp, which aims to place students in well-paying jobs.
Our goal is to provide ongoing STEM programming to more EYC students across all ages, developing their technical skills, creativity, and problem-solving skills. As SabaiCode states, “The world is in growing need of people with high creativity, problem-solving and leadership skills. These skills are embedded in the field of computer science . . . Our goal is not to produce future computer scientists. Our goal is to introduce computer science fundamentals to students at a young age…So that our girls do not think that computer science is just for boys……And so that they grow creativity, problem-solving ability. and mental toughness at a young age.”
Contributing to the success of EYC’s partnership with SabaiCode has been the invaluable support we have received from U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh and MatesAbroad, allowing us to develop new programming and determine how we integrate that programming into our ongoing curriculum in a sustainable way.
The partnerships between SabaiCode, EYC, U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, and MatesAbroad is proof positive of the transformational impact that mission-aligned organizations can create. We are immensely grateful for these partnerships.