School students are now able to continue their education without distance being an obstacle thanks to new accommodation. Taveang Lower Secondary School saw the opening of its new boarding house in Ratanak Kiri on 16 July 2015. Donated by the Floyd& Delores Jones Foundation, the new building can house 50 students whose homes are too remote for them to travel to school each day.
The opening event was attended by 250 students, teachers, the director of the Provincial Office of Education for Ratanak Kiri, and government representatives of provincial departments for Women’s Affairs, Agriculture, and Water Resources. As he formally opened the building, the Governor of Ratanak Kiri His Excellency Thorng Savon said, “This is so important for the students and could have a big impact on their lives.”
Boarding houses are vital for young people from remote areas to have the opportunity to progress past primary school. “To get to my home I have to cross the river and then walk even further,” says one student, who receives a scholarship to stay at the boarding house. “In the rainy season the river is high and my books would get wet, so it would be too difficult for me to come to school every day if I did not have somewhere to stay.”
CARE program director Jan Noorlander said he saw the need for the accommodation facilities at the school after seeing the poor living conditions nine months before, and understood why the Provincial Office of Education had recommended Taveang. “CARE can provide support and capacity building, but aid becomes only effective if the school is cooperative, seizes the opportunity and takes responsibility as well,” Mr Noorlander said. “This school understands the importance of sport to build leadership skills especially for girls, teacher training on gender and ethnic minorities resulting in a better learning environment, and students becoming young citizens who are respectful to each other. They have actively engaged in CARE’s programs to build the leadership and self esteem of students and we are happy that their students will also benefit from these improved facilities.”
The new boarding house features solar energy, bunk beds, bathrooms and lockers which are a great improvement on the previous structure.
“We are grateful for CARE’s support. Now we need to keep encouraging parents to send their children to school,” school director Mr. Chan Naroeun said. “The boarding house gives much better access to school for students that live further away.”
Of the students currently in the boarding house, 95 per cent are from the Brov ethno-linguistic group and there are 18 girls. Some of the students have benefitted from CARE’s support before, receiving scholarships, access to computers and sporting equipment.
With the Ministry of Education poised to finalise the Multi-Lingual Education National Action Plan, CARE hopes that more and more young people from ethnic minorities will attain higher levels of education. The Floyd & Delores Jones Boarding House of the Taveang Lower Secondary School will help provide these opportunities to some of those who face the greatest challenges in attending school.