Meet Sokhom, a Student Determined to Succeed, Who Has Changed Her Mother’s Views on Education
Sokhom Nort, aged 19, is a PEPY Scholarship student studying Electrotechnics at the Regional Polytechnic Institute Techo Sen Siem Reap. “It’s what I have always wanted to do because our country is in need of skilled electrical workers,” she explains. “And in Cambodia, not many women study electricity.”
However, she has had to overcome many obstacles to be able to pursue this degree. “She has never wanted to stop studying, even when I asked her to stop because I needed help farming rice,” describes her mother, Preang. Although Sokhom’s siblings traveled to Thailand in order to help support the family, they still needed her to help them cultivate rice for their own subsistence and to sell for basic needs. This issue is widespread throughout Siem Reap Province, in which most of the population depends on agriculture as a way of generating income. As a result, children are often kept home from school in order to help tend the fields. In addition, many older children drop out of high school to migrate, usually illegally, to Thailand, where wages for unskilled labor are higher than in Cambodia; however, this poses many risks and nonetheless does not pay very well. This cycle is perpetuated by a general lack of awareness in rural areas about the value of education, where short-term gains from immediate income are more likely to take priority over investing in the long-term benefits of education.
In response to these conditions, PEPY’s mission is to connect youth in target areas with educational and skilled career opportunities, and generally to educate them, their parents, and their communities on the importance of education in getting jobs that pay well enough so that they do not have to rely on agriculture and illegal migration to be comfortable. The Scholarship Program (which provides committed and financially disadvantaged students with tuition fee support, healthcare, a bicycle and helmet, a living allowance, mentoring, and access to the Learning Center, capacity-building workshops, and networking events) is one way in which PEPY does this. “I am very excited to study in university, because before I never thought I could do that,” Sokhom says. “I will be able to find a job easily, and this makes me happy and proud.” As for her mother, Preang has given Sokhom her full support now that she has seen the opportunities Sokhom now has ahead of her. “I want her to get a better life and be a good role model for our community. I’m so excited that PEPY has supported her,” she said.
Apart from being able to support herself and her family, Sokhom is also excited to do her part in developing Cambodia and promoting gender equality in her field. “I hope that I can develop electric systems better in my country,” proclaims Sokhom.
You can support the ambitions of students like Sokhom by donating, sharing her story with friends, and telling others about the work that PEPY does!
Asian Development Bank. ‘’Cambodia: Country Poverty Analysis 2014.’’ 2014. Manila: Asian Development Bank.
UNICEF. May 2017. “Executive Summary Study on the Impact of Migration on Children in the Capital and Target Provinces, Cambodia.”