PEPY currently operates in 6 districts: Siem Reap, Kralanh, Srei Snam, Varin, Taing Kork, and Kompong Leaeng. However, it was not always this way. Our founders, who came to Cambodia to support education development, started by building a school in Kralanh District. Eventually the organization was operating across the country. After localizing and focusing our efforts on youth development, our target communities became much more strategic. With our firmly established connections and history in Kralanh, it was the ideal location to transition into our current programs.
Our Outreach Programs, the Dream Management Project and Scholarship for Higher Education Project, were in Srei Snam from 2017-2021. We closed the district activities to identify new target schools more in need of our support. We provided scholarships to Srei Snam youth up until 2021, so we will support them until they complete their studies.
After solidifying our Outreach Program partners, we expanded into Varin District in 2019. Varin was selected based on our research of the region:
-> the community’s and school’s potential receptiveness to the program
-> the statistics of drop-outs versus students moving onto higher education
-> our ability to establish local government support
By taking these crucial steps, we ensure that we partner with communities where the local leadership is behind us. This ultimately makes the programs even more successful and sustainable!
In addition, we also provide scholarships to students in Taing Kork and Kompong Leaeng Districts. We work with Go Ahead Organization through iHerb Charitable Foundation to give more youth the opportunity to access higher education.
PEPY’s Learning Center is in Siem Reap city, and it supports up to 60 first-year scholars and additional rural youth each year. We give students hard and soft skills development training for one year. Through our work, we make sure graduates are ready and prepared to excel after their first year of studies.
Lastly, our Youth Innovators and Incubator Program and office are located close to Siem Reap city center. This program provides intensive training to young entrepreneurs to develop and execute their business concepts. The team also gives youth access to a library, business exhibitions, and co-working spaces.
Cambodia is often known for the Khmer Rouge atrocity, a reign of terror that was inflicted from 1975-1979. Over 1.5 million people were either murdered or died from overwork and starvation . Due to the most educated people being targeted, Cambodia struggles with a lack of trained educators and skilled professionals.
Today, Siem Reap Province is one of the lowest ranking provinces in terms of the quality of education. This includes the national averages of school retention rates, educator-to-student ratios, and high school graduation rates. Siem Reap’s low ranking is for a multitude of reasons.
Firstly, most families are remote and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. They do not have the means to send their children to higher education. Also, families generally do not value education because they are not aware of the impact that higher education can have. Many Cambodians, even as young as 12, migrate illegally to Thailand in search of work. As a result, income is sporadic and limited, perpetuating a continued cycle of poverty. This has lead Siem Reap to be one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia despite the booming tourist industry.
Our strategies and initiatives will improve and increase the safety of community and ultimately break the cycle of poverty! We focus on:
-> working with local high school teachers to help increase their skills
-> providing pathways to higher education
-> connecting rural youth to sustainable employment opportunities