The lack of a qualified labour force affects all sectors and represents a huge challenge for education and vocational training sectors in Cambodia, where half of the population is under 25. Though the proportion of children attending primary school is improving, many are dropping out of secondary school. The poorest of the youngsters are most vulnerable and there is a higher risk they will drop out of school to work and support their families.
Education and vocational training, essential tools to escape poverty
Before the establishment of the Institute for Vocational Training, students graduated from PSE with a Brevet (GNVQ/GCSE equivalent) and found themselves doing small jobs with no future, because they didn't have professional qualifications. Therefore, Christian and Marie-France, PSE's founders, created the Institute for Vocational Training, convinced that learning a trade was the only way youngsters, looking to succeed, could fully integrate themselves into society over the long term.
Today, the PSE Institute welcomes almost 1,500 students in four schools: School of Hospitality and Tourism, School of Business, School of Technology and School of Media. The courses on offer correspond to the needs of the job market and they evolve as required. All courses offered by PSE focus on practical training (70% of the time) so that students can be productive as soon as enter the job market. Students are trained in professional and personal skills as well as technical skills.
"We want the best school for the poorest of the poor"
Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, PSE's founders
Guaranteeing support for our youngster thanks to sponsorship
PSE's work is essential because it allows youngsters to rediscover the hope of a dignified future.
Our vocational training courses last two years but, very often, children are taken care of by PSE much before: many receive secondary school education, take thei Brevet (GCSE/GNVQ equivalent) before starting vocational training, often after a year of bridging classes taken between the end of school and start of vocational training.
That is why PSE has set up the sponsorship system: a guarantee to be able to take care of the children until the end of their education, until they find a job that allows them to live a dignified life.
We cannot leave any child by the side of the road.
PSE's actions to support education and vocational training during the Covid-19 crisis
Since 16th March 2020, all the schools in Cambodia have been closed, so our students have to stay at home. Despite the difficulties in implementing remote schooling for our students who don't have access to the necessary tools, we managed to ensure the continuity of schooling.
Children and youngsters come to PSE to pick up their homework and bring it back so the teachers can mark it. Some of the vocational training students have access to IT tools so they can receive and send their homework online.
It is essential not to lose contact with those youngsters, they can easily drop out of school.
Some students can restart their internship at the beginning of June, as the companies that welcome them restart.
Find out about Youn, student at the mechanics vocational training
"Everyone told me 'you are a girl, why do you want to study to be a mechanic'" remembers Youn, who is studying to be a mechanic at the School of Technology. "Classes can be really hard sometimes but there is no way I will give up because I love what I do! I am extremely proud of myself! I am the only girl who came to study to be a mechanic, can you imagine?"