Cambodia has made great progress in the last fifteen years, by expanding its tourism and drawing overseas investments. However, World Bank data shows that most of the work force is still employee in farming, while corruption has infiltrated many sectors, preventing the country to truly make progress. In 2017, the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport released the Education Statistics and Indicators reports which presented that the net enrollment for primary education had reached 93% in the whole kingdom. Despite this improvement towards a universal primary education, many young people still drop out of school, and do not continue their education. The access to secondary education shows many inequalities, across gender, location and socio-economic groups, with an upper secondary gross enrolment rate of only 25.1 percent in 2017. Both access and quality of education pose crucial issues and indicate a need for more relevant school curricula, sufficiently trained teachers, and more resources for school improvements. The Cambodia NGO Human and Hope reiterates what most reports have concluded: Corruption, outdated textbooks, and dilapidated classrooms are some of the many issues that Cambodian education is still facing.
Education is not the only challenge that Cambodia is currently facing. Health care is still a substantial issue. The country has focused a lot of its effort on improving the health care system and the level of care given in the hospitals in bigger cities has increased. Staff is trained better, and health protocol are more respected. However, it is not sufficient and one of the major problem is the access to medical institutions for poor communities, and people in remote areas. Families living in the poorest provinces have to travel long journeys to the capital city to get proper care, and the one that cannot afford traveling are left getting treated in rudimentary institutions. In provincial hospital, there are a lack of adapted equipment and medicine. Cambodia is also confronted to other complication as health and security protocol are not completely integrated by the local staff, and put many patients at risks. The FFF and its partners not only work on providing health to remote communities, but also on improving standards and implementing good practices in hospitals
In Cambodia, we partner with Kampuchean Action for Primary Education (KAPE) to build, develop and scale a New Generation Schools (NGS) programme. This is the leading educational project in Cambodia and is now uniquely supported financially by the Cambodian government. The basic premise of NGS schools is to work with the government, within the existing education system, to develop academically excellent schools that are available to children from any socio-economic background.
In most schools in Cambodia, children learn by rote and teachers are often corrupt, undertrained and sometimes inept. However, by paying additional salaries to teachers, banning teacher moonlighting, improving governance structures, building libraries and IT rooms, upgrading the school environment and changing the children and indeed parent culture, New Generation Schools not only enable vast improvements in students’ education, and attitudes towards school, but also serve as a pioneering model of how collaborative work between government and NGOs can result in fundamental change.
For both KAPE and FFF, this is not a numbers game, but a quality one. This is about getting children with real potential into good schools. In two High Schools, the first generation of students to have completed the entirety of their secondary schooling within an NGS institution sat the Bac 2 exam in summer 2018 and achieved results that far exceeded the national average with respectively 89% and 75% pass rate. But this tells only half the story. NGS students have to study additional hours every week focusing on non national curriculum subjects with a strong focus on STEM subjects, computing, public debating, and English. So NGS students are not just outperforming on the national curriculum but leave school with additional skills and knowledge. KAPE’s teachers are both dedicated and innovative and the immediate academic results have won NGS unprecedented political support. The NGS programme is a key component of the National Education Reform Program and has proved itself to be an exceptional value for money initiative. In 2014, the Prime Minister awarded a prize to one school as the 2nd best school in Cambodia. NGS currently counts 12 schools in the whole kingdom the Cambodian government is now fully funding a multi-million expansion for 2019/2020.
In September 2019, the FFF and KAPE have developed, and opened a dedicated Teacher Training Center in partnership with the Government to ensure NGS has the supply of high quality teachers needed for the expansion.
The FFF is increasing its focus on advocacy, promoting NGS style solutions to educational reform agendas in developing Asia and beyond.
The FFF is a joint funder and has been involve in shaping the strategy of the Lake Clinic (TLC) which is the sole provider of medical and health services to circa 50,000 people on the Tonle Sap Lake. The communities on the lake live in incredibly harsh circumstances with limited access to clean water or electricity, and very restricted or no access to healthcare services.
The Lake Clinic operates on boat and goes from one village to another to not only help people, but also prevent illness with early diagnosis and prevention treatments. The medical team, provides vaccinations, eye care services, antenatal care, and referral to hospitals, but also health education, which includes nutrition programmes.
In supporting TLC, the FFF is helping to provide these communities with access to key healthcare services. The Foundation is also working with TLC to provide expectant and young mothers with the nutritional and educational support they need to raise healthy children.
The FFF is in the early stages of launching a new hybrid hospital programme based on the lessons learnt with our New Generation Schools programme and the incredible work done by Chenla Children’s Hospital. Chenla Children’s Hospital is a pediatric hospital located inside of a Kratie Provincial Hospital, a government-run hospital in a remote eastern province of Cambodia.
Kratie Province has among the worst health outcomes in Cambodia – with 80 of every 1000 children dying before their fifth birthday. Chenla’s objective is to strengthen public healthcare capacity to deliver high quality sustainable paediatric care in Kratie Province. Chenla replaced an existing paediatrics ward in Kratie Provincial Hospital, which was under-staffed and under- resourced. Utilizing existing government facilities, medication, supplies, and staff, Chenla provides international-standard medical care to Cambodian children suffering from infectious disease, febrile illness, premature birth, and more. Chenla collects revenue from donors, reimbursement for care provided to Health Equity Fund patients, and patient-paid fees.
It uses this revenue to fund an innovative human capital model that rewards employees for longer work hours and more strict accountability.
The FFF in partnership with Bill and Lori Housworth is working on building an innovative group of hospitals that utilizes a public-private partnership model to bring together donor, community, and government investment to provide sustainably-funded high-quality paediatric care to Cambodian children. The hospitals will use government facilities and majority government staff & supplies, while retaining the freedom to change the organizational structure and culture. Through user fees, donor revenue, and reduced operating expenses made possible by government partnership, they provide care that meets or exceeds what is available in private or wholly donor-funded hospitals in Cambodia