ODA is a registered Education NGO with the Cambodian Government.
ODA Focus It’s important to remember that it is only 37 years ago that Khmer Rouge wiped out all levels of perceived intelligent Cambodians. For example if you were a Doctor or teacher etc or even wore glasses you were simply killed. All educative text and historical books, musical instruments scores etc were burnt.
Cambodians are now struggling in an educational rebuilding phase and the effects of COVID-19 are severely impacting current education. ODA was created to assist needy children to experience the luxury of education, to help qualify them for employment, and prepare them mentally and physically for their future in the harsh environment that is still Cambodia today. Education and Creativity are the ODA priorities, along with traditional cultural values, care and encouragement.
Leng and recent volunteers with some of the residential students at ODA Central school.
The 8 ODA English Schools are registered with the District Education Authority and yearly English Exams are conducted under their supervision -resulting certificates bearing the Education Authority and ODA logos.
Founder/Director is Leng Touch, supported by his wife Sry On. In his youth Leng completed a 5 year Fine Arts Degree, subsequently working as an Art Teacher, and more recently completed a 3 year part time MBA.
The ODA Central School
Located in the Angkor Wat Temple precinct and supporting 36 full time students – inc four of Leng and Sry On’s own natural children. Village and Commune Chiefs approach Leng when they have children in varying desperate situations. Due to COVID-19 these residential students have the IT capability to study on line but normally the children attend Khmer school ½ a day, six days a week, and in addition, English, Art, Computers and Khmer Culture classes are offered at this ODA school. Local village children attend English classes also.
ODA Outlying Village - Free English Schools
Donor funded masonry school room with solar power used for kindergarten, English night school and IT classes.
ODA runs seven other Free English kindergarten and night English schools, with four offering Introduction to Computer classes. These are located in outlying villages 40-60kms out of Siem Reap. All schools have single room masonry buildings, see above, with Solar power, toilets and water wells.
Employment is plentiful in and around the booming tourist industry in Siem Reap District, however the primary requirement is for English skills, even for general housekeeping duties in hotels. Leng Touch saw the need for English classes in these outlying villages to offer opportunities of improved future employment for the poor but keen, children of subsistence farmers living there. Classes are mostly overflowing as seen below they don’t mind sharing 3-6 in a desk – they are just very happy to have the opportunity to learn English free.
A typical kindergarten activity class at one of our new schools, older siblings eagerly attend also.
ODA Free Village English Schools Programs
1497 + current students (numbers tend to drop slightly in the wet season)
879+ students currently attending free night English schools at our 8 schools with 3 curriculum levels, 6 nights a week.
488+ children attending 7 kindergartens 2 hours daily.
130+ students attending computer classes at 4 of these schools for 2-4 hours (4 days a week). ODA wishes to extend these computer classes to more of their schools but require donations of 2nd hand computers with good batteries as solar power isn’t always available for computer classes due to wet season. Also funding to extend the solar systems would be required.
6 of the 8 ODA schools construction were funded and yearly running costs continue to be funded by generous donors for those schools. This included the purchase of land, construction of single classrooms and facilities, toilets, water well, stationery/educational books/CD’s, furniture, solar panels for electricity, a teachers computer, classroom TV etc).
The other schools and associated costs overall are a constant challenge for ODA to maintain with limited funding resources, but still achieving great results with their students.
Under scrutiny of the District Education Authority last October, Over 165 ODA students sat a formal English Exam. Their resulting certificate bears both the ODA logo and that of the District Education Authority. Very few English schools have this authority and this certificate is valuable to students when applying for employment.
ODA Students attending University
Through kind donors and ODA art sales, ODA has currently 16 students attending University courses of their choosing, including Bachelor of English, Accountancy, Civil Engineering, IT etc.
All teachers are trained to conduct ODA classes in Kindergarten, English or Introduction to Computer enabling them to earn small salaries around their further study.
A further 3 students have now graduated with Masters Degrees in TESOL English and are continuing to teach at ODA schools. They also assist in further update training of other ODA teachers.
A UK University Lecturer plus an experienced Australian TESOL teacher work with the ODA Teacher Support Manager, to oversee training of teachers, curriculum choice and delivery.
ODA Farm and Aquaponics Program
ODA Central students have been in COVID-19 lockdown this year so are busy with on line school and farming to provide as much food for themselves as they can in their free time. They have loaned land nearby, so are growing vegetables using hydroponics water from their recently expanded fish farm.
ODA Yearly Uniform Fund ($27USD a set)
Some of the 703 students 2018, who received uniform sets (inc mosquito nets) through the ODA Uniform fund, enabling them to attend government school for one more year. No Uniform = No School here!
No Uniform = No School
Cambodian law states that if a child does not have a uniform they cannot attend school.
In 2012 ODA distributed 399 Uniform sets to poor children in the outlying villages to enable them to attend school for another year. Each child received 2 sets of uniforms including underwear, and a mosquito net.
In 2013, again through kind donors, ODA distributed 320 Uniform sets (this time as above and including sneakers and socks).
In 2014, ODA was able to distribute 659 uniform sets November 2014.
2015/16/17/18 and 2019 - Wonderful support has built up for this project from kind donors all over the world, enabling ODA to distribute 703 uniform sets these last four years, including 2 uniform sets, underwear, sneakers, socks and a mosquito net. These families are so very grateful for the assistance – with 6-8 children per family they simply couldn’t afford uniforms for their children to attend school, so without this project, farming children would start work at very young ages.
2015/16 saw the introduction of the AEC (Asian Economic Community) as a huge problem for Cambodian children. With most neighbouring countries having implemented compulsory school attendance many years ago – this is a serious challenge to young Cambodian people seeking work in the future in this economic community – as a result attending school has become a critical issue.
Statistics from world aid organisations state that school uniforms save girls lives. The price of a uniform allows a girl to stay at school longer - resulting in later marriages and less deaths from childbirth in immature bodies.
Statistics also indicate that more education for girls and boys results in many gaining improved employment opportunities or starting small businesses and as they mature, they also tend to have less children and support those to longer attendance in schools.
ODA considers this is the most important ‘external project’ we work to deliver.
ODA has very few volunteers and has an initial 1 month volunteer period.
Volunteer Application Forms must be submitted along with references, skills that will benefit the students, Working with Children or Police checks and have to be received well prior for acceptance.
Accepted volunteers are asked to complete an ESL (English as a Second Language) course if possible prior to their placement, however other employment and life skills are also valuable to students.
Itinerant/traveling applicants are not accepted. We understand that ‘voluntourism’ only benefits the tourist, and a sea of changing faces is actually disruptive to our students.
Through our Volunteer Program, we now have two very highly qualified and experienced teachers heading up the ODA Education Program. This ensures continuous improvement in our curriculum and delivery to our students.
ODA is only able to continue our programs due to donations from people who have visited and wish to assist these keen young students. Always a struggle with little committed regular funding and Cambodia is still a harsh place to live so the better prepared educationally youngsters are in all aspects, the more successful their lives will be in the future. It is a fact that ODA is still very dependent on donations from kind supporters but the children are so grateful to be able to attend classes and work very hard to improve their future employment prospects.
Overseas Art Exhibitions – ODA is always looking for kind people to volunteer for these in their country. These are sales of the children’s art works which generous people decide to host in their own country locations, to help funding. We provide guidelines and a ‘how to’ and these usually result in from $8-12,000. ODA is always on the lookout for kind hosts to run these exhibitions as they can provide a valuable segment towards our funding needs.
Fiscal and Registration Responsibility
ODA is Reg. No 3275 with the Cambodian Government, and Provincial Reg. No 171 Department of Education Youth and Sport of Siem Reap, as an Education NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) Non Profit designation.
Accounting for International Development UK (AfID) partnered with ODA in 2014 and facilitated two placements to strengthen ODA’s accounting & financial management. ODA is now independently supported by an accountant who offers ongoing training and monitoring of monthly accounts.
ODA is proud to be a partner for project J1068N with Australian NGO, Global Development Group (GDG). Providing a governance role and assisting in the areas of planning, monitoring and evaluating to ensure the projects are carried out to OAGDS requirements.
Finalists in an innovative ODA Speaking Competency Competition
initiated by teacher Sokna Sun (see middle) Sokna topped his years at University and has now completed his Masters. A particularly intelligent young man, he is keen to win a scholarship to study in an overseas university.