The Neeson Cripps Academy, a high school for the local non-profit organization Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), has celebrated 5 years giving disadvantaged children in Cambodia access to education.
The Neeson Cripps Academy (NCA), CCF’s flagship school, opened in 2017 in the heart of Steung Meanchey, less than 300 meters from the former landfill site.
It provides the most underprivileged children with the highest quality education focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) with some of the most advanced educational facilities in Cambodia.
Many of the first children who attended the school once worked and lived on the Steung Meanchey dumpsite.
The goal of the NCA was to give the poorest children in Cambodia the opportunity of the very best education, removing barriers to schooling and impacting the local community.
It has surpassed expectations with extraordinary successes.
In addition to the optimized education, there’s a real focus on STEM, the science, technology, engineering and math, plus we have the arts, so it’s actually STEAM.
NCA students achieved a 82% pass rate in the last Grade 12 National Exam, the best grades ever in the history of the school. 2 students achieved an A Grade, another first for the NCA.
NCA graduates are winning places at universities in Cambodia and overseas scholarships as CCF invests in their futures.
To date, 105 CCF students have graduated from university on the path to a brighter future.
Over the 5 years, the NCA has transformed the lives of 686 children, many of whom would not otherwise have had the opportunity to go to school.
“In addition to the optimized education, there’s a real focus on STEM, the science, technology, engineering and math, plus we have the arts, so it’s actually STEAM,” says CCF Founder and Executive Director Scott Neeson
“And it’s really important because we’re encouraging the students here, especially the girls, to move into STEM related fields, so they’ll be studying the likes of engineering, internet development, programming and being trained for jobs that really matter, where it will be a lifelong benefit, and it’s been a remarkable experience with 70% of the students who have started with us now completing university.”
Today, the NCA is a learning hub for more than 400 students. Giving them hope and opportunity to fulfill their potentials and dreams.
The NCA also acts as a teacher training hub for both CCF and public school teachers, and with the support of the University of Nottingham, we’re bringing the professional practice of international educators into the heart of CCF’s education program.
Tomorrow’s leaders are being made at the NCA.
I’m so passionate about technology. I want to show the world that girls have the ability to be successful tech entrepreneurs.
A focus on STEM education is equipping students with the skills to compete in a technological workplace and giving girls the opportunity to shine.
CCF actively encourages girls to study STEM subjects and consider careers in fields such as engineering and computing, where women are still underrepresented in the workforce and there are clear skill gaps in Cambodia’s science and technology industries.
Student Phou Srey Mei is one of the NCA’s female stem stars. She wants to study ITC (Information and Communications Technology) and has been offered a full scholarship at a university in Phnom Penh.
“I’m so passionate about technology. I want to show the world that girls have the ability to be successful tech entrepreneurs,” said Srey Mei.
Fellow NCA students Nhem Seak Eng and Nhoem Vanneit both scored A Grade in the recent Grade 12 National Exams and are heading to university on scholarships.
“I want to study Computer Science,” said Seak Eng, 18. “In the future, I want to run a technology company focusing on computer programming.”
As a child, Vanneit, 19, used to scavenge on the Steung Meanchey dump to survive.
“I am proud of myself and I feel luck that I could join CCF and study at NCA,” he said.
“What inspires me is that 13 years ago, I was working hard on the garbage dump to earn a little money. I always tell myself that your background only defines where you came from, it doesn’t define where you will go.”
Vanneit wants to become a software developer and has applied for a scholarship to study in Australia.
The quality of education at the NCA enables students to achieve the standard needed to apply for international scholarships directly from Grade 12.
Six CCF students have won life-changing places to study in Australia at Trinity College, part of the University of Melbourne, with a chance to continue on to a full degree course.
Kanha Meas received a Trinity scholarship in 2020 and this month (February 2022) moved to Melbourne.
It was one of my dreams to study abroad and get a scholarship,” said Kanha, who joined CCF when she was nine years old.
“I’m very happy my dream has come true.”
NCA students have been making their mark home and abroad, from appearing at the World Robot Olympiad final in Hungary to winning the National Final of the Technovation Girls competition.
Construction of the NCA was a gift from Velcro Companies, a supporter of advancing education for children across the globe, and designed pro-bono by acclaimed New York firm CookFox Architects.
The school was named after Robert Cripps, former Velcro Companies Chairman, and Scott Neeson, Founder and Executive Director of CCF.
“The opening of the Academy is a great moment for the CCF and its entire community. It shows what can be achieved when you have a bold vision, a strong commitment and the support of so many dedicated people” said Robert Cripps at the start of the project in 2015. A statement that still resonates with the mission and outcomes of the NCA today.