As presented and voted at the AGM in Paris, June 2019, the partnership project between Bayon School and PSE is now underway.

Since its beginning 20 years ago, the Bayon School has made tremendous progress, recruiting many talented people, achieving well-deserved success & continually launching new initiatives. It is still hugely rewarding to participate actively in the education of so many underprivileged children from Siem Reap, from signing them up for their primary school years and following them through their secondary years, to developing the Pastry School & Coffee Shop and now by providing the necessary know-how to help families participate in the Green Project.
However, at the same time, we have made some observations;
With the primary school located within the temples, we are no longer able to expand. This forces us to make very difficult decisions when selecting new pupils as we cannot satisfy all the requests, of which there are far too many. Furthermore, our primary school pupils from twenty years ago are now grown-up; we have supported them throughout their studies, but many of them are now looking for jobs. Finally, whilst our “small is beautiful” set-up allows us to be creative, flexible and reactive as well as “entrepreneurial”, it also suffers from the fragility of a small structure.
With all this in mind, we set out on a search for a partner, who would allow us to keep our values, our DNA, our “footwork”, but who would also open doors to new initiatives and professional opportunities for the children, giving the Bayon School long term security, from both an organisational and a societal point of view.

Mai et Mamy

PSE “Pour un Sourire d’Enfant”, (For a Child’s Smile) an association set up in 1996 by Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, quickly emerged as the ideal association for this partnership.
PSE is a charity registered in Cambodia where it currently takes care of over 6500 children and their families through financial support. PSE also has a number of vocational schools where students can learn a skilled trade in hospitality, management or sales & technical.

PSE has developed its activities mainly in Phnom Penh with some branches outside the capital, but the association has also been overwhelmed by its success and is now facing some challenges with its local branches.


In the Siem Reap branch, where there are around 10 full-time employees (social team and operational support), PSE currently helps 414 children who are enrolled in local state schools and accompanies 200 families with financial support. It also has a “reception centre” with various buildings on a large plot of land close to the town centre, but this is not currently being optimised, Under the terms of our agreement, the Bayon School will take on the management of these activities in Siem Reap through synergies of both associative models and the local teams.

Right now, the first project on this plot will be the setting up of an experimental farm of permaculture – or “integrated agriculture” – which will be the basis of a future vocational training programme. More news and photos of this project in the next newsletter!


, 17 December 2019


The Bayon Pastry School has begun its sixth school year with a new intake of 26 students. The site has been transformed from its modest beginnings and the training programme is now highly professional and well known in and around Siem Reap.

Our experience has led to a growing reputation and our students find jobs easily once they have finished the programme. Over the last 5 years, 86 students have graduated and found stable jobs.

What’s next? We want to grow and improve our training site as well as the quality of our bread. Our students are trained mainly in pastry but we want to develop our bread-making programme. With this in mind, we have decided to create a new baking laboratory for use by our students.


Let’s find out more from Sokhoeurn, the head of the Pastry school:

What are the objectives of this new work space?
The main objective is to extend our premises to allow us to recruit more than 25 students per intake. In addition, up until now, we have concentrated on pastry and the equipment we use is not particularly adapted to bread-making. We would therefore like to invest in more specialised equipment for this new programme.

What has changed compared to the old pastry lab?
Apart from giving us more space, the major improvement has been made in reaching required standards of hygiene. With this new work space, we will be able to operate in compliance with international standards of hygiene and food safety.


Have you invested in specific equipment?
We have invested in the small equipment which Is essential for break-making, as well as a dough-making machine, spiral mixers and an oven. I am particularly proud of the investment in the cold storage room which will enable us to manage our stock better. These recommendations were made by Lesaffre and Arizta, our partners on this project.

What are your projects for the future?
We would like to improve the quality of our bread and then promote it in Siem Reap. We want our students to realise how important bread is; they need to understand that it is the equivalent of the rice that we eat with every meal in Cambodia!

A very big thank you to all our sponsors, this project could not exist without your loyal support : Aryzta, Fondation Sodebo, Lesaffre, Kitchen Aid ; and not forgetting severals donators who gave in honor of Irene Meister.


, 16 December 2019


Sbek Thom is Khmer shadow theatre featuring two-metre high, non-articulated puppets made of chiselled leather. Dating from before the Angkorian period, Sbek Thom, along with the Royal Ballet and mask theatre, is considered sacred. Dedicated to the divinities, performances could only take place on specific occasions three or four times a year, such as the Khmer New Year, the King’s birthday or the veneration of famous people. After the fall of Angkor in the fifteenth century, shadow theatre evolved beyond a ritualistic activity to become an artistic form, while retaining its ceremonial dimension. Since 2008, it has been inscribed by UNESCO on the list of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
(source :
At the Bayon School, we believe it essential to carry on with this tradition and including it in our programme of extra-curricular activities is an integral part of this process. After developing our lessons of sport, arts & crafts and Apsara dance, the introduction of lessons of Khmer puppetry allows us to link history, creativity & teamwork.


Before all else, we would like to introduce Tob Leang, our new puppet teacher at the Bayon School. Tob Leang studied the history and creation of puppets for three years at the Bambu Stage, a social entreprise based in Siem Reap, which aims to highlight young talent through crafts and traditional Khmer culture. He joins the Bayon team today in the hope of passing on his knowledge to the pupils at our primary school.
Our project is ambitious as we want to put on our first Khmer shadow theatre presentation at the Bayon School at the end of the first semester. There are of course numerous steps to integrate beforehand:


• First learning step: hold and learn to use the tools required to make the puppets as chiselling the leather is a complex technique to master. All our pupils will learn to select the tool, which is best adapted to obtain the desired shape of the puppet.
• Once this step has been mastered, it is time to make the actual puppets. Using a small chisel and a hammer, the children learn step-by-step how to trace straight lines, before moving on to making their first samples. Taking into account the dexterity required by the pupils, the team at Bayon have decided to start the puppet-making lessons in Grade 2 (7-8 years old)


• Once the little puppets have been made, there remains one essential step, and not the easiest! Memorising g the scenario and learning how to bring the puppets to life to ensure a successful presentation.
Tob Leang spent a long time working on this scenario before arriving at Bayon; it requires a great deal of attention and concentration from the children, as you can see from the photos!


At the time of writing this article, the children have made tremendous progress and most of the puppets have already been made. For news on the presentation at the end of the semester, you will have to wait until the next newsletter at the end of March!

A very big thank you to Fondation Insolite Bâtisseur – Philippe Romero, which finance this project and enable them to set up this new complementary class.

, 12 December 2019


Another school year comes to an end at the Bayon School… and before we know it, another group of students has joined the pastry school whilst nineteen new little ones fill the empty benches in the Kindergarten class. Such is the life of a school: some move on, leaving the space open for others to integrate our classes. There is always a lot happening, which is how it should be! Initiatives come to light, ideas abound, things take shape, the teams get on board and new projects come to life…


The 2018/2019 school year started at the primary school with an overhaul of the teaching system, following recommendations made by Rodrigo and Anaïs, after their audit of our pedagogical set-up.• A new primary head has been recruited and the teaching team has been renewed, giving preference to full-time contracts, which allows us to put in place extra support classes for children who may be struggling.
• Two new buildings have opened their doors; a computer classroom for the pupils of Grades 5 & 6, as well as a library with over 400 books in Khmer.
• A brand-new canteen and water management system have been inaugurated.

These investments have only been made possible through the generous support of our sponsors and donators. Without them, we would not be able to achieve so much. An enormous THANK YOU!


Our secondary students participated in the monthly careers events with professionals who came to present their jobs. A jewelry designer, HR in a travel agency, accountant in an NGO, manager of a hotel: very diverse worlds come together to talk to our students, allowing them to project themselves into a professional future which is not really that far away after all. This year, they were also lucky to be able to participate in an intercultural exchange with students from the Lycée Français of Singapore, which was rich in emotion.
The vegetable gardens have never produced as much as this year; it really was a bumper crop! 80% of the canteen’s vegetables were grown locally and ecologically in the plots of the 8 families involved in the Green Project. Every day at daybreak, 25 Kg of vegetables arrive by motorbike, tuktuk or even bicycle to allow our cooks to prepare the meals for our 250 pupils, who start lunch at 11 o’clock for the youngest amongst them. It is quite a marathon to keep the families motivated as market gardening really is a daily enterprise with no time for rest. This year, we have been able to equip each family with an automatic irrigation system, allowing them time for other activities such as weeding, harvesting, pest control, etc.


At the pastry school, 21 young women graduated at the end of August. With their diploma under their arm, they set off towards a secure professional future in the hotels in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh and/or in the bakeries looking for qualified labour. These students, who joined us in September 2018, were unrecognisable when they left; shy, reserved and unsure of themselves at the beginning, they left us brimming with self-confidence and armed with a trade that they can and must promote. We are astounded by their capacity to learn and absorb so much in only 12 months.


The new students who arrived in August 2019 have already taken their first steps in the pristine Bakery Lab, which we have just inaugurated and which will enable us to train more students in better conditions.

The Bayon School is moving forward – thanks to its teams and numerous loyal donators who believe in its project. Let’s continue together!

Please find attached the Activity Report for the year 2018/2019 for further details on what we do.

, 2 December 2019


ASSET-H&C is a unique network of vocational training centres that promotes the social and economic inclusion of vulnerable people in Southeast Asia, through training and professional integration in the hospitality and catering business.
With their 14 members in 5 countries in South-East Asia, ASSET-H&C helps us by sharing their experiences, the pooling of resources, the promotion of good practices and, ultimately, the improvement of the results of each school. Members work hand in hand to increase their positive impact on disadvantaged youth & adult social and professional integration. ASSET-H&C also aims to offer training in hospitality-catering careers with a view to openings in sustainable professions.
Since 2016, the Bayon Pastry School has been part of ASSET-H&C network, which has recently been honoured by PATA Grand Award for Education and Training. At the end of October 2019, ASSET-H&C organised their annual regional seminarin Yangon, Myanmar with all their school members and the Bayon School was invited to participate.

Discover the summary of this event, through the testimony of Thorth, our deputy programs director!
“It was a wonderful experience for me, as a representative of the Bayon School, to participate in the two-and-a-half-day seminar organised by ASSET-H&C in Yangon, Myanmar. This workshop gathered 12 member-schools from Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam. One of the major highlights of this experience for me was being able to meet the directors of each school; we could get to know each other and exchange our experiences.
The objective of the workshop was to facilitate networking between the school members, who are working on providing the necessary skills to disadvantaged people to enable them to find decent work in the tourism and hospitality industry. Each member could share their experience of working with these people in need and learn from the other schools’ experiences.


On the first morning, each member presented their school, their achievements and challenges in 2019 as well as their plans for 2020. In the afternoon, we discussed men-women equality, follow-up on graduates’ professional integration and alumni management. In the evening, we had the team challenge before enjoying dinner in the city of Yangon.
On the second morning, we discussed the ASSET-H&C progression and action plan for the next 3-5 years and in the afternoon, more than a hundred people participated in the stimulating conference on “Responsible business in tourism and hospitality”.

On the last day of the workshop, we visited Yangon Bakehouse Training Café to wrap up the discussion of the workshop before the participants left to return to their respective countries.
In my opinion, every school member find themselves in a similar social situation with the same challenges when trying to help their target people obtain the professional skills required for the tourism and hospitality industry. I was really excited to be able to participate in this kind of workshop, which allows us to share our best practices and take away new ones which could be applicable to the Bayon school.”