Bun Daly, 19, is a student at Kraing Sramo High School in Samaki Meanchey district in Kampong Chhnang province. She dreams of becoming a teacher and inspire her future students. But she fears she won’t be able to fulfill her goal.
Coming from a low-income family, Daly shared that her family solely relies on her mother’s meager salary, and how it has become her constant fear not being able to study in the university because her family can’t afford her college education.
“I started to study more and more, harder and harder, but sometimes when I come back home, I see my mother work hard but still earning little money. I am scared that I can’t continue my education and go to the university if I get just average scores in the upcoming exam,” she said.
“There is hope,” Daly said.
She was just one of the hundreds of students from Kampong Chhnang who joined the vocational orientation last weekend. Organised by Sipar and Smart Axiata, the forum gathered students who are about to make one the biggest decisions of their lives: their college education.
Neang Sovathana, popularly known as DJ Nana, met the students there to share her personal experiences, to Grade 12 especially, on taking the national exam and on paving the way for a better and bright future.
“Joining this forum made me think about what I really want to be, what I hope to do in the future. I want to become a teacher. I will try my best to pass the exam and get good scores so I can apply for scholarships in the capital. I will train real hard so I can also inspire young people when I become a teacher,” Daly explained.
Held the entire morning on Saturday, Sipar and Smart prepared different educational activities for the participants, giving everyone the chance to learn and have fun at the same time. A booth explaining what STEM is all about was even set up at the high school.
University majors and subjects were explained to the students, as right and accurate information are needed in choosing the right educational path, especially for those students who don’t really know what they want to get.
El Korsem, a 23-year-old man who works as an English-Khmer teacher and a librarian, said that he really wants his students learn by listening to successful people’s experiences in choosing the right major. He was personally delighted when he heard that Sipar was setting up a forum in his remote school.
“I have been working here for three years now. Sipar had set up programmes here that made students more driven to study and hone their talents. Sipar is really trying to encourage learning, especially STEM,” shared Korsem.
He added that over the years he has worked in the school, he had seen students researching for good universities and majors, and where to go after they pass the national exam. The library he manages, he said, has become a significant venue for the students to discover their educational paths.
The staff from Sipar and Smart Axiata, who served as volunteers, explained to students the importance of technology and engineering in this modern time. Learning about STEM – beyond the basics of it – will help students get ahead of the game.
Sin Sothea, Library Programme Coordinator of Sipar, said that the organisation has been setting up forums for Grade 12 students from different schools to widen their knowledge on majors, technical schools and universities that may help them build their future careers.
Sothea revealed that 90 percent of the students in Kraing Sramo High School do not know that they can enroll in technical schools in their province and get a diploma after two years. Many dream of going to big universities in the capital, but only few really strive hard to achieve it. He further revealed that most of the students who want to get degrees in universities are inclined to communication, law and medicine.
“We invited different companies, university students and organisations to join our forum so students can get different perspectives. The guests shared their experiences which they thought can guide students,” Sothea said.
Smart Axiata also introduced different mobile applications, including that of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, that can help them choose their educational paths. Smart Axiata also donated 40 tablets to the Sipar Library in the school.