Although enrollment of boys and girls has reached parity in primary school in Cambodia, the completion rate at the secondary level still demonstrates a gender disparity. Girls are particularly vulnerable, as their education is still commonly less valued than that of boys, and they often drop out at around age 14, creating a gender gap that widens with the educational level. A 2012 UNDP study showed that 20.6% of Cambodian males had at least a secondary education, compared to 11% of Cambodian females.
CASF provides monthly scholarships and other support to address the direct and opportunity costs of keeping a girl in school. Studies show that scholarships targeted to the poor, and conditional on attendance and some level of performance, increase enrollment and attendance.
By increasing opportunity and choice for our students, we are creating a virtuous cycle, in which women attain higher professional achievements and thus provide the next generation of girls with professional role models. We have created a culture of education in our villages. Parents are less likely to take students out of school to work, and our graduates return often to help their families.
Our Program Coordinator
Our Program Coordinator, Panha, oversees both the secondary and the university programs. Panha was herself a CASF scholarship student, and has an innate understanding of the needs of our students and the particular issues they face. She has a BA from the National University of Management, has attended the Middlebury College Chinese School, and plans to go on to a graduate degree in Management at Royal University of Law & Economics.
Secondary School Program
Students are selected based on merit and motivation. Once they have been admitted to the CASF program, they receive a stipend of $15-25/month, and meet once a month with an Educational Coordinator, who oversees their educational progress and steps in to help out with any emotional or medical issues as well.
CASF operates primarily in the provinces of Svay Rieng and Kandal.
Svay Rieng is located in the southeastern area of Cambodia, and borders with Vietnam. It is largely composed of wet plains (under water for half of the year), and most of our students come from families of rice farmers.
Our educational coordinator in Svay Rieng, Savy, a local teacher, has been with CASF for over ten years, and oversees our twenty-three students in Grades 7-12.
Kandal is located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Farming (of palm oil, peanuts, rice and pepper) and fishing are the main economic activities of Kandal.
In Kandal, we have two Educational Coordinators, Narin and Sophal. Narin is a teacher, and Sophal is the chief of her village. In Kandal, CASF supports fourteen students in Grades 7-12.
Once a student has passed the National Exam and is accepted to a university, oversight continues, with housing (in the CASF University Women’s Support Center in Phnom Penh), a computer lab, mentoring, preventative medical care, monthly stipend and tuition provided by CASF.
An English language teacher lives in the dorm with the students, teaching them in formal classes as well as interacting with them on a daily basis.
Students are provided with lessons on life skills ranging from finance to health to leadership.
We currently support twenty-eight students at the university level, studying at universities including the Royal University of Law and Economics, the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and the National University of Management.