Phnom Penh is a city of nearly four million people, but Cambodia’s educational system is broken. During the genocide, all books were burned, all teachers were killed. The government needs to rebuild into their country the very basics, such as Cambodian school materials. Materials are sparse, teachers are under-trained, class rooms sometimes hold up to 60 students.
Few high school students pass their exams and many of those get the lowest grades considered passable. The pass rate has averaged between 26 -62%. (In contrast, New Life School has a pass rate of 98%)
· Students are not taught basic character, and school leaders are not examples. Children learn it is “normal and acceptable” to cheat.
· Free public education is not really free. Most teachers expect their children to pay them for any paper she gives them, to buy snacks from her, etc. The poor, are left without the ability to study if they cannot afford to pay the teacher.
· Slum parents often do not allow their children to attend school. The children are brought up roaming the streets looking for recyclables to sell, begging, or working at a young age in order to eat. They are easy targets for exploitation and abuse. Parents will, however, allow their children to attend school if they are served a free lunch. New Life School is many children’s “happy place”.