Prey Chas, Cambodia desperately need a new secondary school. Fortunately for the village, the Cambodia community development prospectus for the new school building was provided by the NGO I was working with. As a result, I decided to assist with project funding.
I had recently traveled through the area and I remember passing through Prey Chas. Therefore, the community sounded familiar and the area seemed less foreign. However, the extreme poverty I encountered was the decisive factor which made me decide to contribute to Prey Chas, Cambodia and SE Asia.
Structural Challenges for Cambodia Community Development
Prey Chas, Cambodia is a rural fishing village located in Battambang Province at the far NW end of the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia. As a result, Tonle Sap was a major factor to consider when constructing the school. This is because Tonle Sap has notoriously volatile water level fluctuations. Therefore, Cambodia community development projects near Tonle Sap must be above the water level. This is difficult because of the low elevation. Additionally, school attendance and construction would be challenging due to transportation issues.
Transportation Problems on Tonle Sap
Many students are unable to attend school due to Tonle Sap transportation issues. Indeed, water based transport is usually the only option available, especially during monsoon season. However, fuel is expensive and the local community is very poor with most residents dependent on subsistence farming and fishing.
Furthermore, many students who must travel greater distances are unable to attend due to lack of transport. Prey Chas is the main village and it is the main transportation hub in this area. Therefore, the location was ideal for a new school building because it would be a very significant motivational factor to encourage attendance.
Better Facilities for Students and Teachers
Previously, the teacher’s boarding house served as their school prior to completion of this new Cambodia community development project. Therefore, the teacher’s rooms were classrooms during the day and bedrooms at night. Additionally, the teacher’s personal belongings must be removed before class every day.
Due to limited space many students could not attend. As a result, school attendance was very low with only 40-50 students attending class daily. In addition, the drop out rate was high. Ideally, completion of the Cambodia community development project would reverse these trends.
Private Funding and Community Participation
I agreed to provide 100% funding for the project. However, the government and also the local community would contribute their share. Therefore, the government would provide training for the teachers and pay their salaries. Additionally, the government would provide the school curriculum plus school materials for teaching and learning.
The local community would prepare the grounds for construction and support the delivery of the construction materials. Most essentially, the local community agreed to provide an additional boat to transport students to school throughout the school year.
The construction of the Prey Chas, Cambodia school project began in November 2013 and was completed in the summer of 2014.
Cambodia Community Development Opening Ceremony
In November 2014, we all gathered in Prey Chas for the celebration. Most essentially, the school opening ceremony was a community affair. As a result, the ceremony was attended by the provincial governor, teachers, students, Buddhist monks and the school administrators. Additionally, the Governor of Battambang Province presented me with the “Cambodia Development Medal of Honor” during the ceremony.
School Construction Photos: