Aflatoun International – Child Social and Financial Education

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Partner of the Week: Teach for Cambodia

Posted in Blogs on June 1, 2023

Teach for Cambodia (TFC) is a local non-profit in Cambodia in 2015 and facilitators started implementing their work in public schools in 2018. Following their vision to unleash the potential of the country’s youth, their mission is to work in partnership with other like-minded entities to create positive change in Cambodian public education through capacity building and teacher leadership training, so they become agents of change and influence the transformation of education at the national level.  

To achieve their goal, TFC recruits outstanding recent university graduates, active teachers, and young professionals across diverse academic disciplines and career interests to commit to facilitating two-year programmes in public schools, where the support is most needed. In this process, the team of TFC encourages and supports these fellows to become long-term agents of change, who will work in Cambodian schools and the broader education sector to address education inequity. 

Our Partnership 

Teach for Cambodia became our partner in 2020. The partnership arose from a mutual interest to jointly uplift positive, substantial change in school curricula and ever since, as students, as well as local teachers, enjoy the material, our partnership continues to inspire open, flexible channels of communication to ensure quality education and the contextualisation of resources.  

We appreciate the technical support and input you provide on localisation and monitory and evaluation, and your openness to making connections and sharing resources 

Given that half of Cambodia’s population is below the age of 25, it is crucially important for Cambodia to prioritise investment in its youth. This is why TFC implements, among various other strategies, our Aflateen programmes. While young individuals in Cambodia are already engaged in economic activities, they face a significant gap in fundamental financial education. This lack of financial literacy poses a threat to economically disadvantaged youth, as it increases their vulnerability to making decisions that may lead to debt and prolonged poverty. 

Today, we see an enormous opportunity to change this narrative. We believe that empowering students through financial education can enable economic empowerment and social mobility not just for themselves, but can transform the future for families and communities. — Fellow Member of TFC

In light of the underlying value of enriching school curricula with a special focus on life skills, Teach for Cambodia is very proud of the ‘Financial Education Initiative’, in partnership with Aflatoun and supported by Credit Suisse, which focused on training teachers to provide support to young individuals in acquiring essential skills such as budgeting, saving, evaluating risk and reward, and negotiation, placing a unique emphasis on empowering girls. Through intensive training and ongoing mentoring, TFC fellows (teachers) implemented a customized financial education curriculum that equipped students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make informed decisions and to actively participate in the broader social and economic aspects of society. 

The pilot program, tailored for secondary and high school students, spanned three months and it successfully engaged over 1,200 students between the ages of 12 and 17 from five different schools across two provinces. As a culmination of the pilot, they organized a business pitching competition known as the Riel Hackathon for kids. In October 2022, TFC carefully selected and coached 18 groups of students, who then travelled to Phnom Penh to present their business ideas to a panel of judges.

The Story of Ratanak: A Skilled Footballer and a Successful Businessman 

Ratanak, a 14-year-old student in grade 7 at a local high school, initially displayed a lack of curiosity and interest in learning. He frequently skipped classes, sometimes even absenting himself for an entire week during the first semester. When questioned about his behaviour, he explained that he believed studying held no importance for him since his sole ambition was to become a footballer. Ratanak often appeared disengaged during class and frequently initiated disruptive small talk, causing disturbances among both the teacher and fellow students. His perspective changed when the teacher awarded certificates of appreciation for outstanding performance, the most improved, and the most hard-working students. Ratanak noticed that the majority of the class received recognition, except for a few students, including himself, leading him to wonder why he was excluded. 

Since that moment, Ratanak has shown remarkable improvements. He now attends classes regularly, devotes greater attention to his studies, and exhibits a newfound sense of curiosity. He actively participates in all subjects, particularly in financial education classes. He diligently completes homework, seeks assistance from classmates through group chats, and actively engages in discussions and Q&A sessions during class. When asked about the most significant changes he has noticed in himself, Ratanak identified four crucial transformations. 

Firstly, he has developed a habit of saving money. Previously, he would spend his entire daily allowance of 10,000 riels in the morning. However, after learning about responsible spending and saving, Ratanak recognized his past irresponsible behaviour and committed to saving. He now allocates only 3,000-5,000 riels for snacks and saves the remaining amount for future use or emergencies. 

Secondly, Ratanak has experienced a boost in self-confidence. Engaging in active learning methods has allowed him to embrace his ideas and strengths, enabling him to confidently share his thoughts. He believes that acknowledging his mistakes and expressing his opinions helps him improve by gaining clarity on the correctness of his ideas. 

Thirdly, he has cultivated a sense of curiosity and embraced research. Realizing that spending excessive time on his phone and social media left him feeling stressed and bored, Ratanak has shifted his focus. He now devotes more time to reading books, completing homework, and engaging in household chores like cooking and cleaning. He is currently engrossed in the book “Enterprise Ideas,” which introduces him to successful individuals such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and other entrepreneurs, providing him with intriguing insights. 

Lastly, Ratanak expressed his newfound clarity of having two distinct aspirations: to become a skilled and educated footballer and a successful businessman. Although he is uncertain about his business idea at present, Ratanak values the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship from a young age, recognizing the resources he is building for his future. He not only envisions his dreams but also comprehends the necessary steps to achieve them. For instance, to become a talented football player, he understands the importance of continuous practice with his club to refine his skills and increase his chances of joining a reputable football team. Through this pathway, he can generate income while simultaneously pursuing his education.