Following the success of a charity project organised by Bryanston School last year, almost 500 children from some of the most remote areas of Cambodia and Myanmar are able to go to school for the first time in their lives.
Organised by Cameron Robertson and Zeynep Koksal, former head boy and girl at the Dorset-based school, the charities day raised a staggering £54,000 for United World Schools, funding an intensive planning and construction programme to build two brand-new education institutes.
According to figures from Unicef, almost 25% of Grade 3 primary students in Cambodia are unable to write a single word in a dictation test, while 55% of adolescents drop out of school by the time they’re one year old. In Myanmar, on the other hand, a 2014 census found that one in five children aged 6–10 years either end up dropping out of school, or never get the chance to attend to begin with.
Working alongside local tribes and communities, the charity’s new school in Phnom Ro Eli in Cambodia is now teaching 235 students from five local villages; while the school in Shay Kin in the Shan state of east Myanmar is now the charity’s largest in the country, thanks to an extension subsidised by the Bryanston School project.
“When we began our fundraising drive, we were determined to help make a difference to the lives of young people in some of the most remote and deprived areas of the world,” said Robertson. “Having exceeded even our most optimistic target, we are absolutely delighted that our efforts have resulted in such important facilities that now lie at the heart of the local communities – even more so given the extreme challenges posed by the current coronavirus pandemic.”
With virtually no healthcare provision in these remote regions, both schools are helping to raise awareness and mitigate risks associated with Covid-19. On top of investing in washing facilities and delivering lessons on hygiene and social distancing, the charity is also hosting regular sessions for local community members to prevent further spread of the virus.
Robertson and Koksal plan to visit pupils and staff at the schools in Cambodia and Myanmar as soon as it’s deemed safe to do so.
“It is so gratifying to see the smiles of pupils in the videos and photos we’ve now seen from both schools,” said Koksal. “The charities day was a real challenge, but we had tremendous support from the entire Bryanston community. To know that so many young people are now learning to read and write and benefitting from proper education for the first time has certainly made all the effort worthwhile.”
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