Cambodia National College Exam
On Monday and Tuesday in Cambodia, graduating high school students will be taking the college entrance exam that will determine the course of their futures. They will sit for exams in geography, history, biology, foreign language, Khmer literature, mathematics and moral-civic education.
For teens from the rural countryside, graduating high school is a remarkable achievement. Intense poverty causes many to drop out at an early age in order to work full-time. Families often can’t afford the costs required for high school, as low teacher pay has led many educators to charge their own “extra fees” in order for a student to get access to the full curriculum.
As if these challenges weren’t enough, hunger and chronic malnutrition are very common in the countryside and harm a child’s development, stamina, energy, and opportunities to learn. All of these difficulties can explain why only a very small percentage of rural students ever receive a high school diploma.
In the border region of Cambodia where LWB is now working, we’re excited that 44 students will be sitting for the college exam! They’ll be traveling several hours away from their villages to the nearest testing center to take the test on August 21 and 22.
I’ve been extremely blessed to get to meet these young people in person, and today I wanted to share about just a few of them, as they continually amaze me with their perseverance and work ethic.
First I want to introduce you to Peter, an outgoing and friendly teen who lives with his single mom and his two younger sisters.
Peter gets up at 5 a.m. each day to finish his chores and get his sisters to school. He got his first part-time job in 7th grade to pay for his school fees, and since then I don’t think he’s stopped working from morning to night. After putting in a full day at school himself, he then tutors younger children in the evenings in both computers and English.
Peter wants to go into a field where he can help people, and he’s currently thinking about becoming a teacher.
Then there’s Mae, who may be small in size but huge in compassion and heart. She also works from morning to night and has faced great pressure over the years to drop out of school to get a job. Despite this pressure, Mae never gave up on her studies.
This remarkable young woman has just graduated high school and now dreams of attending university. Like Peter, Mae tutors younger children from her village every night and volunteers on the weekend with the MERCY teens, cycling out to rural villages to teach kids about traffickers, personal safety, and hygiene.
Mae is also helping us with our foster care program in Cambodia, and she’s hoping to go into social work or public safety to make a continuing difference in her community.
Megan is another incredible senior who has worked nonstop to finish her high school diploma, despite facing intense pressure to quit and find work as her father has been chronically ill and her sister sadly passed away from sickness. Because of her family’s tragedy, Megan is hoping to pass the college entrance exam so she can become a nurse. We most definitely could use her medical help in the rural villages in the future.
Megan gets up at 5:30 a.m. each day to prepare food for her mom to sell on a street cart before running to high school. Every evening, she teaches night classes to younger students before finishing her homework and chores and gets by on just a few hours of sleep.
No Playstations or Netflix binge-watching or hanging out at the mall all weekend for these young people. They work morning to night, seven days a week because they’re determined to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Please be thinking of all the high school seniors who’ll be sitting for the national exam this coming week.
They’ve had every obstacle placed in their paths, but they didn’t give up. They are so deserving of a college acceptance. I’m inspired daily by their dedication to helping others and working with the younger children in their communities.
Recently, I read the following message from another teen in our program, rising senior Robert.
To me, his post summed up perfectly just how incredible the students in our LWB Cambodia program truly are.
Poor in your heart is the real poor.
A | Why am I so poor?
B | You are not giving and do not know how.
A | I have nothing to give.
B | You have things to give, not less at all.
Face | you can smile, be cheerful and happy.
Mouth | you can speak with kind words, encourage people, be cheerful, and give them comfort.
Heart | You can open your heart to others by being sincere, truthful and kind.
Eye | You can look at others with kindness and compassion.
Body | You can use your own labor to help out others.
Isn’t that a powerful piece of wisdom? These are the students with whom we are so fortunate to work each day.
Let’s cheer the seniors on from afar as they sit for the national college exam. They have worked SO hard to get to this point in their lives. I know if given the chance, they’ll continue to soar and bring real change to their communities.
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer