Communication :

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING – Where are our former students?

ONG Association Cambodge Formation professionelle 6ème promotion 1

Between 2014 and 2019, our Pastry school has seen 5 intakes of students and 80 young women have graduated from our professional training programme. What have they become? Let’s take a look at their different paths and their current situation in a Cambodia which is booming, but where there are still many disparities..


The Survey

The Bayon social team carried out a survey early 2020 on 80 alumni with the following aims:

  1. Analysing the impact of the pastry/baking training in the employability of the young women
  2. Noting their personal satisfaction in their current job
  3. Understanding the level of income that they earn in order to live a decent life.

Out of 80 alumni, 65 took part in the survey (by telephone or via an online form), which represents 81% of our former students.


Here are some key figures:

  1. 86% of the students questioned are currently in employment with 14% not working (unemployed, maternity leave or further studies at university). Three quarters of them work in Siem Reap.
  2. The average wage for our former students, across the five different intakes, is $190 per month.
  3. None of those surveyed plans to change jobs and 9 out of 10 are fully satisfied with the skills acquired during the training programme in Bayon Pastry School. They have also confirmed that these skills are extremely useful on a day-to-day basis.

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82% of the former students surveyed are currently working in the hotel & restaurant sector and so are using the skills they acquired in Bayon daily.


A reasonable wage in Cambodia.

Although Cambodia introduced a legal minimum wage of $170 (for the textile sector) in January 2018, a large majority of the population does not earn that amount. The students who graduate from the Bayon Pastry School are generally recruited at an average wage of $163 for the first year. This wage increases quite quickly and they can earn up to 15% more in their second year.

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The average wage of the graduates surveyed is 190 $/month (excluding those who are not currently working). We can see a clear link between the years of experience and the salaries which increase by 40% over 5 years. When asked “Can you live comfortably and without extra help on your salary?”, 3% (2 graduates) confirmed that they were living comfortably and 89% thought that they were just scraping by.


Meeting their own needs and supporting their families.

The data above illustrates how precarious the situation is for the families of our graduates: many have debts to pay back and as soon as a member of the family can meet his/her own needs with a regular wage, he/her must support the family. Of the 65 alumni questioned, 61 indicated that they were sending money back to their family each month. The amounts for 75% of them varied from $50 to 150$ per month; in other words, up to half of their wage.

ONG Association Cambdoge Formation professionnelle pâtisserie boulangerie Alumni success story 1 - KOLA

KOLA – Former student, training a new student at her new job.


The Role of Bayon School.

Our role is to train young women for a practical profession which will allow them to access the workplace quickly, where they can earn a decent, sustainable wage. For most of them, a large chunk of this salary will be sent to their family, which gives our young graduates the impression that they are just scraping by. However, we do need to remind them that our training programme is relatively new, but that the salaries do increase over the years with experience: +40% over 5 years. Most importantly, we need to remind them that it is the whole family which is better off; brothers and sisters who can go to school, grandparents who can get medical treatment and women who can be proud of having brought about this change.

 

, 2 July 2020

BAYON SCHOOL – DEALING WITH COVID-19

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It has now been close to four months that COVID-19 has spread across the planet. Even if Cambodia has officially registered very few cases and no deaths, the country has not been spared and its population is suffering from the loss of jobs and the lack of tourist activity. Bayon School is doing their best to help the families during this unprecedented crisis.


 

Support the families – The first urgency

Since mid-March, no tourist has been allowed to enter the country and the large majority of the hotels, restaurants and spas have closed, leaving thousands of workers with no jobs and no compensation from the Cambodian government. Many of our families have been affected, losing their primary source of income which allowed them to meet the basic needs of 8-10 people. Furthermore, the children who used to go to school were being fed breakfast and lunch at the canteen, one thing less for the parents or grandparents to provide. Now they are at home and need feeding by their families, adding an additional charge.

Faced with this critical situation, Bayon School reacted quickly. From Week 1, all the vegetables grown by the famers invested in the Green Project were bought by the NGO and then distributed free of charge to the parents of our pupils. This guaranteed a salary for these women farmers and the insurance that the children would continue to eat healthy vegetables. In addition, our social teams studied the families very closely and we started distributing rice to those in desperate need from the second week after the school closure. Special thanks to our donors and the company AMRU Rice for their precious support, which allowed us to finance the rice and vegetables.

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Closure of the Pastry School and Coffee Shop – What happens next?

At the Pastry School, we had to send our 26 students back to their families and, as a result and out of obligation, close the shop. The Coffee Shop of the Bayon Pastry School, opened more than 4 years ago, covers 50 % of the budget required for the pastry/baking training programme. Its closure means a significant loss of income for the NGO, which we have been able, in part, to compensate through the generosity of our donors. After two weeks of adjustment and holidays for the catering staff, we put in place several projects in preparation for the re-opening: inventory, storage, planting in the gardens, painting the walls, Spring cleaning, … In the end, the team was very busy. In addition, Sokhouern and Sokly developed a brand-new range of bread with no fewer than 10 new references for sale in our future bakery. They had the time to test new recipes to ensure a wide range of products that we will be able to offer the hotels and restaurants once they can re-open. Finally, since the end of April, the teachers have put in place online lessons for our students, who, each day, receive videos and telephone calls to keep them up to date and help them revise their lessons.

Pain

 

Social follow-up, survey and report

Our social teams have been very committed during this period. They worked firstly on identifying the families with the most difficulties in order to help them in the best way possible. This crisis has also given us the possibility to take a big step back and analyse the impact of our actions on the children and their education. A further study was led with the alumni of the Pastry School, with the aim of updating the details of our former students, analyzing their career paths and reviewing their situation one to five years after graduating.

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And our communication?

We have launched the huge undertaking of redoing the website for Bayon School. It will be revealed soon! And we are trying, as best we can, to stay in touch with all the friends of Bayon School, who, we know, stand by our side. An enormous thank you for your help which has allowed us to manage this crisis and help our families as much as possible. We hope to reopen the schools very soon and see again the happy, smiling faces of our pupils as they play outside.

 

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A NEW HEADMASTER FOR THE PRIMARY SCHOOL

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Vantha HEM – On the right

 

In November 2019, after a rich and diverse career, Vantha HEM joined the Bayon School as headmaster for the Primary School and he has easily integrated the team. Read on to learn what motivates him and what he has been working on for the last 8 months.


Vantha, can you tell us briefly about yourself?

I am 42 years old and I have one child. I started my career as a school teacher before taking over as headmaster of the Ta Pen School (NGO Le Don du Chœur). I then worked for FRIENDS International as project manager for the reintegration of young dropouts before joining Water for Cambodia as deputy manager and head of operations.


What has struck you the most since arriving in Bayon School? And what do you appreciate the most since starting work here?

Its location! The school is located in a really exceptional place with all these gigantic trees. I have also been impressed by the fact that everything is given to the children to ensure that they can study in a good environment (canteen morning and midday, school supplies, uniform, …). I am touched by the atmosphere within the team of teachers and the solidarity between them. I also find that the pupils show great respect towards authority and the teachers. As a whole, the children are all quite honest.

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What was the first thing you did?

For me, it seemed essential to get to know the children, their background and their families, in order to understand better the global project of the NGO. At the same time, I got in touch quickly with the local authorities (village chiefs, monks, …) to introduce myself. The school now participates once a month in an inter-school committee.


How do you perceive working with children who come from very poor backgrounds & whose families are very often unable to support them?

It is true that the pupils of the Bayon School are, for the most part, left to care for themselves. I worked for several years on the reintegration of young dropouts and so I make use of that experience as well as that of the current Bayon team. We work with a committee which summons the parents whose children miss too much school or who are no longer invested enough in the programme. It can be complicated to get the families to understand the importance of education. When the children fall behind and grow older (after Grade 6), it becomes delicate as they search for odd jobs to help support their family.

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After eight months as headmaster of the Bayon Primary School, can you tell us about some of your achievements?

Firstly, some things have changed in human resources. Sothea has become the administrative manager and Loan the maintenance manager. Their roles are essential; I am training them and encouraging them to take on more responsibilities. The full team of teachers now takes part once a month in training programmes to help them with their teaching methods and the creation of their curricula; they are all very happy to participate. We have also implemented internal training with « school demonstrations ». Once a month, a teacher spends half a day in the class of a colleague to observe, pick up some good ideas and then introduce them in his/her own class.

We have also worked on the school surroundings and safety. I have requested that the APSARA authorities cut down the dangerous branches of dead trees and we have planted several areas with flowers and plants.

Lastly, as I was saying at the beginning, I have been working on promoting good relations between the monks from the pagoda and our team members. We are on their land and it is indispensable that we work together to ensure the future of our school.

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A last question: how do you manage to keep everybody motivated during the COVID-10 crisis?

At the beginning, we split the teachers into two groups to ensure social distancing. Some worked from home, whilst others came to the school to tidy up, decorate the classes and review the preparation of the lessons. Very early on, we set up distance learning for the pupils with work they could do at home. They come in groups of 5 at a time to pick up documents which they then bring back the following week. This system requires a great deal of organisation by the teachers. We are all hoping that we can reopen the school very soon.

 

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BUDDING CHAMPIONS

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Set up in 2018, the sports programme at the Bayon Primary School has developed rapidly over the last two and a half years. Every week, our pupils practise different sports at school and participate in matches as well as an official regional school competition. Discover our champions’ exploits in pictures.


 

In February 2018, we decided to introduce weekly PE (Physical Education) lessons for the pupils from Grades 2-6 and recruited a qualified PE teacher; this was in line with our wish to offer a different pedagogical approach, based on the children’s individual needs (complimented by arts and crafts lessons) whilst expanding the traditional PE programme at the school. Since October 2018, we have extended the lessons to Grade 1 pupils. In order to continue to offer a high-quality PE programme, we also increased the number of hours in the weekly timetable 2019-20 from 40 minutes to one hour and 20 minutes.
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Chuon Dorl is our qualified PE teacher, who followed a training program with the association Kampuchea Balopp, which promotes sport in Cambodia).

PE lessons are important as they allow our pupils to develop skills which are not always taught in the other subjects:

  • Team spirit
  • Self-confidence and the idea of surpassing oneself
  • Value of hard work and effort
  • Respect for others and compliance with the rules
  • A sense of initiative and responsibility
  • A senses of commitment.

These lessons are also the time for the children to let off steam and enjoy themselves whilst discovering different sports and fun activities.


At the beginning of the school year 2018, the primary pupils were all given a PE outfit of shorts and a T-Shirt, flocked with the logo of Bayon. These will be renewed in 2020. Furthermore, Bayon School has invested in the installation on the school premises of goalposts and a sand pit for athletics, as well as buying smaller items such as cones, bibs & balls.  Thanks to these investments, the children can now try out all sorts of sports: football, volleyball, long jump, high jump, running.

 

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In 2019, Bayon School participated, for the first time in its history, in the regional school championship, which was organised by the Government for various different sports: football, basketball, volleyball & athletics. Bayon had football teams in the Boys, Girls and Mixed Teams competition.

In 2020, Bayon participated once again but with more children; 30 pupils overall took part, with the Boys’ football team and the mixed athletics team competing in the high jump, long jump, sprint, running, relay and a type of Pentathlon. Before the big event, our champions underwent specific training sessions and participated in two football matches against other primary schools, both of which they won.

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In 2020, and for the second year running, our football team unfortunately did not manage to get past the first round, but we are not giving up and are already preparing next year’s competition with great enthusiasm. Our Athletics team, on the other hand, was more successful in their first participation with excellent results:

  • 1st Place in Boys Long Jump
  • 3rd Place in Girls’ Relay
  • 4th Place in Girls’ High Jump
  • 4th Place in Girls’ Sprint
  • 4th Place in Girls’ Running

The school championship is the only chance that many of our pupils have to participate in real competition conditions. It is most certainly a long-awaited event in the school calendar and they represent their school colours with tremendous pride. The popularity of the activities and the progression of the children in such a short time really underlines the importance of the sporting activities at the school and showcases its success.

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For the school year 2020-21, Bayon School plans to continue investing in its sporting infrastructure, in particular a volleyball court, the renovation of the sand pit and the purchase of hurdles. In addition, we would like to register pupils in different sports in the school championship, giving more children the possibility to compete, the aim being of course to participate and have fun… whilst trying to bring home as many medals as possible!

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