“In the future, when I finish my studying, I would like to become a doctor,” says Kem Sothy, a scholarship recipient and ethnic minority student in Ratanak Kiri Province.
Kem Sothy is the second eldest in a family of six children, four girls, and two boys. Her grandmother and grandfather, 61 and 70 years old respectively, now take care of the family because their mother died and their father moved away to a different village. The family is Tampuen ethnicity, a minority in Cambodia.
Currently, Kem Sothy is studying in Grade 8 at Bar Kaev Lower Secondary School in Ratanak Kiri Province, where she studies alongside Khmer and ethnic minority students from the Tampuen and the Jarai ethno-linguistic groups. Kem has received a scholarship from CARE since the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year, her first grade in lower secondary school, which she uses to purchase food, transport back to her village, school supplies, and a uniform.
Without a scholarship, Kem’s grandparents would be unable to cover these costs, and she would unlikely be able to attend school. This issue is common for low-income families in the northeast of Cambodia, who, despite the fact that the Government of Cambodia has abolished school fees up to Grade 9, struggle to afford the costs associated with education.
“There are some children from my village who are unable to attend school because their family cannot afford it” says Kem Sothy. “Thankfully, I have the opportunity to continue my studies in lower secondary school because of a scholarship from CARE. My grandmother and grandfather are also very pleased that I have this opportunity to gain an education and improve my future.
”Kem Sothy has lived in the school’s boarding house for the past two years. She says that the boarding house is a pleasant place to live and that the school environment is clean because all the students who live there help to clean the school grounds and dormitories.
Kem Sothy says that there are students from many different ethnicities in her classes at lower secondary school, which gives her an opportunity to learn about other cultures and languages from her Tampuen and Jarai peers. Kem Sothy also hopes to learn English in the future, because she believes it will improve her career prospects. Kem Sothy works hard in school and has high aspiration for the future. “I try to listen to the teachers who explain the lessons and I try to do the exercises that the teachers set and finish them early,” she said. “In the future, when I finish my studies, I would like to be a doctor.” The scholarship Kem receives through the Quality Education for Indigenous Children project gives her the opportunity to access an education and pursue this dream.
These activities are part of the Education for Ethnic Minorities project, which is supported by the Australian Government, and many other private donors.
CARE also offers scholarships to students like Sothy with support from a range of private donors.