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Bayon School’s origins go back more than 20 years. Since 2014, “Bayon Education and Development” is a Cambodian association which is supported by a French association called “SEP du Bayon”. We are committed to the education of children and students who live in precarious conditions; we currently support more than 400 young Cambodians from infant school right the way through to university or via a professional training programme in baking and pastry.

Behind this associative picture hides the story of 400 personalities, 400 different paths where each and every one of our students gives meaning to what we do. Let’s put the figures to one side and concentrate on the individual, take a step back from the school itself and go back into the field to get a sense of what is really going on, to understand. Understand what is happening in the life of these young people who live with very little, who move through life thanks to parents who fight or parents who sometimes give up that fight. Listen to them. Allow them to express themselves so that we can adapt our actions to what they need.

We took the decision to expand our social team which is now made up of four people: Thorth (Manager), Soky, Chhein and Srotom (social assistants).

This team selects the pupils once they are of age to enter primary school (one of the differences with the state schools), based on the following criteria: the family income, their living conditions, the number of working family members and dependent children, the amount of debt, their medical and sanitary conditions. This assessment gives rise to the attribution of social criteria levels: 1, 2 or 3 (1 being awarded to the most fragile families).

These same levels are used for the young people who make up the “Follow-Up” programme (students in middle school and then high school after having followed the primary school programme with Bayon) and for the recruitment of students for the Pastry School.
Thanks to close monitoring and annual visits, our social team are able to assess any changes in our families’ situation.

At the end of 2019, it came to our attention that some of the families, who were benefitting from the “Follow-Up” programme, had seen their financial situation improve with higher income. We had to make some difficult, but necessary decisions, passing these families, who were previously Level 3, to a newly created Level 4. This change of level meant stopping financial aid for 15 students (12 families), whilst maintaining school and professional support.

As far as we at Bayon are concerned, this decision is, above all, good news, in the sense that the families have become more independent, better armed to face their daily challenges, freer. They give us hope for the future and allow us to help those families who really need it, with the hope that they, when the time comes, will also be able to set off on their own.

, 6 April 2020


Gilles, our artist with a big heart is back in Bayon School. Thanks to him, and for the 5th year running, 3 weeks have been dedicated to artistic projects with the children in the primary school. This year saw the completion of a mural fresco on the wall of the infirmary, the creation of a green wall and the decoration of the new shoe racks. Read on for more details of these fabulous projects, which have proven very popular with all involved.

Gilles, who has been retired for several years now, is passionate about art; he has been visiting us every year for the last 5 years in order to share his passion with the children and to awaken their curiosity.
This project is very close to our heart at Bayon School as it fits in perfectly with our desire to develop a participative education and learning experience, combining theoretical knowledge with personal development and know-how through various extra-curricular activities which we have recently introduced (PE, Apsara dance, traditional Khmer puppets and arts & crafts). For three weeks, all the pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 6 took turns to express their imagination for a magnificent end result!
Last year, Gilles oversaw three different projects whilst he was here; painting the wall of Elodie’s Canteen, making a toothbrush rack for all the classrooms as well as a fabulous cardboard model of the primary school, which was unfortunately damaged during the month of the monsoon just after he left.


Gilles and our volunteers had been thinking about new projects which could, this time, be durable over time: this year’s programme includes a striking mural fresco on the wall of the infirmary, customisation of our new shoe cabinets as well as a green wall using only recycled materials. Let’s looks them more closely:

1. Mural fresco for the infirmary
For the first week of this creative workshop, the children gave the walls of the infirmary a complete make-over. The children really enjoyed reproducing the drawings provided by our very talented Sreyleak, former student of the very first intake at the Pastry School, who now works with us in the Coffee Shop. This first stage needed precision and rigour to achieve such a wonderful end result, to the great delight of Jean-Pierre and Michèle, our volunteers in charge of the infirmary and the health projects.


2. Decoration of the Shoe Racks
With dozens of small shoes discarded in front of the classrooms, the primary school looked a little chaotic and so we thought it was time to install shoe racks in front of each class. These were then brought to life by Gilles and his little helpers!


3. Green wall with recycled materials:
Last but not least, volunteers and staff joined forces to collect all sorts of recycled materials, producing an interesting mix of bicycle and car tyres, coconuts, plastic bottles and wooden planks. A touch of DIY here and a coat of paint there… and our green wall was born.

Everybody of all ages took part in the project and enjoyed themselves immensely. It was with emotion and stars in his eyes that Gilles left the school and the children. We have an inkling that, once settled in his seat, he was already thinking about the projects he could organise next year.
Thank you Gilles!

, 25 March 2020


After launching our Green Project at the beginning of 2018, we would like to go further with our mission of sustainable nutrition and develop our professional training programme. This is why we have taken the decision to launch a new programme on agroecology in November 2020. Let’s take a closer look at what this would involve, as well as the short- and medium-term objectives of this innovative project which is a real investment for the future.

Cambodia’s population is essentially rural (76,6% in 2018), with one third of its inhabitants trying to survive with less that 1$ a day; the country is now facing the same problems European agriculture has been facing since the end of the last century.

The conventional, intensive farming that is currently being practised in Cambodia uses many chemical inputs. With the predominance of rice monoculture, the country is obliged to import the large majority of its vegetable produce (estimated at 80%). The combination of monoculture and extensive use of pesticides prevents the regeneration of the soil, causing a drop in the yields of agriculture production.

Today, there are few actors in Cambodia offering concrete solutions to these issues, such as awareness campaigns and training of the population in sustainable, environmentally friendly farming. At the Bayon School, we feel that transmitting the principles in agroecology could be a long-term solution.

Agroecology is based on applying ecological concepts and principles to optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment, while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system ((source FAO.org). It is based primarily on enhancing biodiversity, waste recycling and crop rotation, making it possible to diversify crop production and remove the need for chemical input.
Since 2018, the Bayon School has been running a sustainable agricultural project by training some of the families of our pupils in agroecology. By planting vegetable gardens on their plots, they are now able to bring in extra income by supplying the canteen at the primary school with locally grown, pesticide-free vegetables.
This project is currently improving the living conditions of 11 families of the primary school, as they produce close to 30 kg of vegetables each day.

In order to go further in our mission of raising awareness and educating, we would like to create a new professional training programme in agroecology. We are currently working on setting up this school with the association Vivre de sa Terre, which already has some experience in agro-ecological professional training in Battambang. Vivre de sa Terre is helping us create the pedagogical content of our programme as well as training our future teachers, En and Sreyleak, who are currently learning how to improve their teaching skills and learning techniques, management and entrepreneurship, sales, marketing and accounting.

After studyingclosely the training experience of Vivre de sa Terre, we have decided to create a short, one-year programme, including several months of internship, the aim of this programme being to allow our students to be rapidly employable. We would like to open this new programme to 10 youths aged 17-20 years living in and around Siem Reap. The programme will allow us to train agro-ecological technicians, who would also be capable of creating projects and putting into practise the values of sustainable development in their future careers.

The teaching content of the programme will need to meet these two criteria, which are essential to the success of the project. In the space of one year, our future students will have gained both technical skills (how to restore the soil’s fertility, protect crops, transform and recycle production, etc.) as well as entrepreneurial know-how (communication, sales and income management, how to work together and innovate, development of soft skills, etc.).

Our medium- and long-term ambition is to promote awareness and the value of more responsible farming practises in Cambodia. To achieve this goal, our first intake of students will need to become the ambassadors of agroecology in Cambodia, where the market for organic produce is still a niche market just waiting to develop. It is a real investment for the future.


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