Financial scholarship helps poor students stay in school

Adapted from an original blog post by Hak Heng

Phorn Sreymao poses for a photo at home
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

For nearly four years, Phorn Sreymao did not have a proper school uniform or adequate school supplies.

Her family’s financial situation was compounded by the fact that her parents were already in debt from covering school expenses.

Sreymao works with her classmate during lessons
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

But after receiving a scholarship in 2015, 12-year-old Sreymao now walks happily to school, content in the knowledge she has all the supplies she needs to continue her studies.

“I was very happy to get the scholarship because now I have enough money to study and to buy a uniform, books, pens and a bag,” she said.

“I have more study materials than ever before. It eases the money problems which caused me so much trouble before,” Sreymao added.

Sreymao walks home from school in her new uniform
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

The scholarship is one of the components of the Capacity Development Partnership Fund (CDPF), which helps build the capacity of the Ministry of Education to effectively manage the scholarship programme so students from poorer families can continue their schooling.

Sreymao continues enjoying her studies at home
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

Sreymao receives US$60 per school year. She is one of three classmates awarded the scholarship when they were in grade four.

now in Grade five, she still remembers the day when her teacher asked students who needed financial help to raise their hands if they were interested in the scholarship fund.

“I raised my hand and i was interviewed. I told my teacher about my hardship and eventually I got the scholarship,” she said.

Sreymao working attentively in class
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

Although the scholarship does not completely meet Sreymao’s needs, it goes a long way. Her mother Leas Puk, 55, Said the scholarship encourages her daughter to study hard.

“I spent the money from the scholarship to buy a set of uniforms and study materials and the rest of the money is for her to go to school everyday,” she said.

“She always goes to school and studies hard even when we are poor and don’t have enough to eat sometimes.”

Sreymao’s Mother sends her off to school
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

Sreymao is the youngest of two siblings. Her father is a security guard and her mother works in a garment factory in Phnom Penh.

After school she takes care of her one-year-old niece and cooks for the family in addition to doing other household chores and school homework.

Helping out with the housework 
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

Sreymao’s teacher, Mr Sat Boramaey, said she is one of the most outstanding students in his class.

He said: “She is a good and clever student. The scholarship is good and helpful for poor students to continue their study. The more students getting scholarships, the better.”

Mr Sat Boramaey takes in exercise books for marking
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

Eighty-one students, including Sreymao, have received financial support so far at the school.

“After getting the scholarship, the condition of students has greatly improved and their class attendance and study results have substantially improved.” Mr Mony, school principal, said.

A typical school class
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina

The CDPF is a multi-donor fund administered by UNICEF with contributions from the European Union (EU), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and UNICEF.

Sreymao works on some maths problems in her scholarship funded exercise book
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Lim Sokchanlina
Like what you read? Give UNICEF Cambodia a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.