Students from Cambodian Children’s Fund have achieved the best grades ever in the history of the Neeson Cripps Academy in the Grade 12 National Exams.
A phenomenal 82% of CCF students at the high school passed the crucial exam, which gives entry to university. This compares to the national average pass rate of 65%. In Phnom Penh, the pass rate was 55%.
Two students scored the top Grade A - the first time CCF students have achieved the perfect mark and putting them in the top 2% of students in Cambodia. And four CCF students received a B Grade.
Our mantra of providing the best education to the poorest kids is bearing fruit
The results are particularly impressive with the challenges of the last year when education was disrupted for months due to COVID, and CCF students had to switch to online and distance learning.
“We're so proud of our students who studied through the most difficult times,” said Scott Neeson, Founder and Executive Director of CCF.
“Our mantra of providing the best education to the poorest kids is bearing fruit.
“A special thanks to our remarkable education team who are constantly working to improve teacher development, curricula and student learning.”
He also thanked the Cripps family based in Australia, long-term CCF supporters.
“This result wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Cripps family, who supported not just the NCA itself, but teacher development and building our network of partnerships with education institutions around the world.”
The success is a quantified measure of the standard of education provided through CCF.
Students are equipped with the ability and confidence to forge a path out of the poverty they were born into.
Taking the National Exam is one of the biggest tests for students in Cambodia, covering English, history, science, mathematics and more.
To attend university, students must pass.
For CCF students, who all come from disadvantaged backgrounds, the chance to go to university is life changing.
By giving them access to a high quality education, they can lift not only themselves but their entire families out of poverty.
Seak Eng, 18, one of the NCA students to pass the National Exam with an A Grade, was born into a poor farming family in rural Cambodia.
Her parents toiled hard in the fields every day to provide enough food for their four children.
When the family moved to the city and settled in Steung Meanchey, near the garbage dump, the parents became scavengers collecting trash on the streets.
Seak Eng’s oldest brother, just eight years old, worked as a scavenger too.
I had low self-esteem because I thought I was the only girl from a poor family.
Through CCF, Seak Eng was given the chance of an education that her mother never had.
“I was a shy girl who had no confidence. I had low self-esteem because I thought I was the only girl from a poor family. However, after I went to CCF, I realized that I am not alone,” said Seak Eng.
With CCF’s Leadership Program, she has learned skills to overcome her fears, taking part in the Global Youth Leadership Summit (GYLS) in the U.S. and speaking a public events.
She was also a member of CCF’s all-girl team who won the 2020 National Grand Prize in the Technovation Girls annual competition.
From a shy girl, she has grown into a confident young woman.
CCF dug me out of the circle of poverty that could have been repeated over and over again.
Her life, she said, would have turned out very differently without CCF, destined to become a scavenger on the rubbish dump or a farmer.
Now, she wants to study Computer Science at university and has applied for a scholarships to go overseas - following in the footsteps of her elder brother, Thayheng, who won a scholarship to study a Master’s in France.
“That’s how big an impact CCF has had and changed my life,” she said.
“CCF dug me out of the circle of poverty that could have been repeated over and over again.”
Vanneit, 19, the second NCA student to obtain an A in the Grade 12 exam, is also passionate about technology and represented CCF and Cambodia at the World Robot Olympiad in Thailand in 2018.
Vanneit’s father died when he was just seven and he was raised by his mother.
Life had been hard for Vanneit’s mother, Sor Aun, who was born into a poor farming family. Six of her siblings and her father were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
She ended up living and working in deplorable conditions on the Steung Meanchey garbage dump. Vanneit worked scavenging among the trash on the dump too.
In 2011, his mum registered him for CCF’s Education Program. She began working for CCF as an assistant cook.
Vanneit had a special spark and became a CCF young leader, helping the grannies, feeding younger kids, studying English and public speaking, and volunteering for whatever he could.
In 2017, he was chosen to take part in a filmmaking course in the Philippines and two years later, won a place at GYLS in the U.S,
In 2019, Vanneit was selected with Seak Eng for the Young Leaders Program (YLP) at Trinity College, the University of Melbourne.
He also wants to study a Computer Science degree and, like Seak Eng, hopes to secure a scholarship for an overseas university. His ambition is to become a software developer and be part of the technology-driven economy in a future Cambodia.
“What inspires me is that 13 years ago, I was working hard on the garbage dump to earn a little money,” said Vanneit.
“Throughout all this, I always tell myself that ‘your background only defines where you came from, but it doesn’t define where you will go’.”