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The importance of a database

The importance of a database

Pinelopi, an intern at BED for 6 months, tells us about the database she created to centralize information about our beneficiaries. A task that at first glance seems obvious, but that turns out to be both complex, technical and vital to improve the quality of the programs we implement.

In September of 2020, I arrived at Bayon Education and Development to implement a project initially sought out by members of the social and health teams. The project? To develop and implement a database that would organize the data collected on beneficiaries as well as assist with the monitoring and evaluation needs of BED.

Database and its contents

The database was built using an online software called TeamDesk. A tool customized to reflect the needs of BED’s data collection and organization of three main components: social, health, and education.

Throughout their enrollment from kindergarten to grade 12, and in some cases university, beneficiaries are monitored by BED’s team of social workers, medical professionals and educators. The social, health and educational data collected by our teams are essential for proper monitoring of each beneficiary as well as for assessing the efficacy and impact of our programs. As a result, the database currently stores the social, health and education information of beneficiaries enrolled in our Primary School, Follow-up and University programs (372 students and 242 families).

Need for a data base

Prior to the implementation of the database, BED was seeking a way to improve the monitoring and evaluation strategies of beneficiaries and programs.

As information was collected by different teams, and previously stored in several unrelated Excel files, performing analyses across the different components of data collection was quite complicated. Additionally, it was challenging to share information between teams.

Lastly, new records were created every year, thus making it difficult to monitor students and families over time and get a sense of the impact and evolution of BED. Therefore, three basic needs were required of the new database: the ability to

  • Store and relate beneficiary data in one place,
  • Keep a history of collected data,
  • Analyze the collected data

Value & impact

Within the database, each student and family has a personal file that stores data collected by each team throughout their enrollment in BED. This has two important implications:

  • The team has access to a comprehensive file to monitor each student and family and
  • Information related to beneficiaries or a program can be monitored over the years.

 In addition to the impact on data organization and monitoring, the database has also influenced how each team collects their data. Teachers at the primary school can now record attendance and exam scores directly on their phone or a tablet, medical check-ups are recorded using a tablet, and social workers have the ability to update a family’s information at the time of their visit. This feature provides all teams with immediate access to updated information as it is collected.

Etudiants du programme follow-up
rencontre avec les étudiants boursiers

Lastly, information can also be organized in charts, graphs and figures. This enables BED’s management to derive insights on the performance of the different projects under its umbrella.

Implementation & future

As BED also aims to increase the skills of its staff, several training sessions have been given and the local teams are now autonomous in the use of the database.

Training of the staff

Although this project begins with three programs (primary, follow-up and university), the long-term objective would be to carry out data collection for all of BED’s programs on the database. Ultimately, the purpose of this database is to serve BED’s team and management in relating information across different data collection tasks and to improve the organization’s ability to track the evolution of beneficiaries and programs over the years to come.

It has been an incredible experience working with each person at BED to complete this project. To say the least, I believe it has been a learning experience for me as well as for all the team members who have had to adjust to a new tool for completing their work in support of children and families enrolled with BED.

From kindergarten to a qualifying diploma: Bayon’s educational pathway

From kindergarten to a qualifying diploma: Bayon’s educational pathway

The implementation of a comprehensive educational program for all the children of Bayon primary school reflects our desire to ensure them a better social and professional integration.

It is our duty to bring all the children of Bayon to realize their dreams

To this end, we have recently initiated an educational reform within our programs to offer this opportunity to every Bayon child.

We have set simple but essential objectives for the success of their professional project

  • To support the child throughout their educational journey to a qualifying degree
  • To guide and support the child in the realization of his/her professional project
  • To individualize and personalize the child’s follow-up
  • To help children with the most difficult educational and/or social situations
  • To improve the overall quality of education

Each child who will begin his or her schooling at the Bayon primary school by the kindergarten section will be followed until the fulfillment of his or her professional project.

Alongside reasoning and intellectual reflection, the sense of observation, the taste for experimentation, sensitivity, motor skills and creative imagination are developed.”

enfant porte des fournitures scolaires

The primary school is a period that plays a decisive role in the educational curriculum of each student. We therefore wish to pay particular attention to the development of fundamental learning (reading, writing, counting and respecting others). To do this, we have doubled the number of first, second and third grade classes and set up support classes for the students with the most difficulties. An awakening to culture, art, music and sports has also been reinforced. This basic foundation is essential to serenely apprehend the classes of CM1, CM2 and 6éme and reinforce the learning capacities of the children. Primary school is also a time when the child’s personal development must be actively encouraged. 

This is why at Bayon School we implement a pedagogy that focuses on the students and their individual abilities.

enfants de maternelles en classe
enfants essayent un instrument de musique
enfants en uniforme de sport célèbrent

The follow-up of students in secondary schools is facilitated by the opening of a Community Center on February 8, 2021. Within this new structure, students have access to support courses in Khmer literature, mathematics and English. An individualized follow-up is possible thanks to the presence of a social worker directly at the center. Beyond the academic follow-up, we are also committed to guiding the young people in their educational and professional path, because their professional project starts there! The implementation of a professional orientation process, occupation and training, will therefore help the students to make the right choice between accessing vocational training or university studies.

Distribution de matériels scolaires aux étudiants
rencontre avec les étudiants boursiers
distribution de matériels scolaires

Whether they want to be mechanics, bakers or nurses, we are here to help them realize their dream.

A year like no other at the Bayon School

A year like no other at the Bayon School

As the year 2020 comes to an end, so does the school year for our primary and bakery/pastry schools. It has been a complicated 12 months, during which our students and teams have been seriously challenged. We have had to adapt, reinvent ourselves and act quickly in the face of a crisis, the impact of which no one could have foreseen. Even though the situation is far from being “normal” again, we have come out of it stronger, enriched and eager to keep innovating in order to provide a better education for those in need.

Let’s look back at the actions and successes of our schools

In September 2019, we welcome our 6th class of students at the Pastry School with 26 young girls; a number, which has been constantly rising since the opening of the school. The new laboratory intended to free up space and reinforce our bakery teaching is almost finished and we are delighted to be able to start the new year in optimal conditions to train more and better. In 2018/2019, we manage to self-finance almost 55% of the school’s costs, thanks to the Coffee Shop’s income, and we are doing our utmost to welcome tourists and visitors to do, if not just as well, even better. The hygiene teaching program is reviewed with a food safety specialist and English classes are reinforced with the launch of a partnership with the Australian Center for English.

pastry-student
des enfans mangent à la cantine

In October 2019, 232 students are enrolled in the Bayon primary school and 120 middle and high school students continue their studies, whilst being accompanied on a monthly basis by our teams with educational and social follow-up. The primary-aged children discover the new sit-down breakfast with a hot meal from 6:45 a.m. The art-culture-sport program is reinforced with traditional puppet classes and one and a half hours a week are dedicated to sports. In February, 30 pupils participate in the inter-school sports championship and win 2 medals; a very proud moment for all involved! Support classes for pupils with difficulties continue and the project for a building dedicated to small group teaching is on the road to completion.

In November 2019, the number of “farmer” families in the Bayon increases to 11, as three new families join the vegetable garden project. This project allows these women farmers to earn additional income and 90% of the vegetables bought for the canteen are now organic.

Cooperation with the association Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (For a Child’s Smile) kicks off and together we launch a major collaborative project to create a field for experimentation in agroecology. Projects such as planting fruit trees and medicinal plants, building above-ground cultivation tables, creating compost and installing an irrigation system mean that this land will become the home to our future agroecology school with its first 10 students in January 2021. At the same time, and in partnership with the NGO Vivre de sa Terre, the 10-month training of the future teachers starts and the team fine-tunes the curriculum.

Une agricultrice montre ses cultures

From December 2019, the families receive a visit from our medical and social teams to assess their sanitary conditions and medical needs. 156 families are interviewed and a major study is conducted to define an action plan to be implemented with our families.

Adapting to the Covid

On March 9, 2020, all schools in the country close their doors and, by the end of March, the last repatriation planes send the last remaining tourists back home. Our students return to their families and our younger pupils are kept away from the school. Disheartened at the beginning, we have to react quickly to help our families face this crisis, not knowing how long it will last.

enfant porte un masque à l'école
des légumes et du riz sont distribués aux familles

All the vegetables produced by the farmers are bought by the NGO and distributed every week free of charge to the families of our pupils, who are no longer being fed morning and night at the canteen. Our social team visits the families at home to analyze the impact of COVID on them: those identified as being in great difficulty receive rice. Distance-learning and very small group-teaching starts in April and in July we receive a donation of smartphones to improve access to online courses for our pastry students. Our teams put in motion the different projects: redesigning the website, painting the walls of the Coffee Shop, studying the situation of our alumni pastry school students, launching a database to regroup all the social, medical and pedagogical information of the students, training for the farmers and precise monitoring of the quantities of vegetables, which just keep on increasing.

tous les enfants de l'école primaire

Bounce back and move forward

All of these actions have made it possible to accompany our families and maintain a pedagogical follow-up, avoiding, as a result, too much delay with the school programs. Some families returned temporarily to their home villages to work the land as they had lost their jobs. The Cambodian people are proving to be resilient and strong in the face of this crisis and we hope that economic and tourist activity can resume as soon as possible to recreate jobs for those who really need them.

photo de groupe de la 6ème promotion

Social issue

Bayon School’s origins go back more than 20 years. Since 2014, “Bayon Education and Development” is a Cambodian association which is supported by a French association called “SEP du Bayon”. We are committed to the education of children and students who live in precarious conditions; we currently support more than 400 young Cambodians from infant school right the way through to university or via a professional training programme in baking and pastry.

Behind this associative picture hides the story of 400 personalities, 400 different paths where each and every one of our students gives meaning to what we do. Let’s put the figures to one side and concentrate on the individual, take a step back from the school itself and go back into the field to get a sense of what is really going on, to understand. Understand what is happening in the life of these young people who live with very little, who move through life thanks to parents who fight or parents who sometimes give up that fight. Listen to them. Allow them to express themselves so that we can adapt our actions to what they need.

IMG_1048

We took the decision to expand our social team which is now made up of four people: Thorth (Manager), Soky, Chhein and Srotom (social assistants).

This team selects the pupils once they are of age to enter primary school (one of the differences with the state schools), based on the following criteria: the family income, their living conditions, the number of working family members and dependent children, the amount of debt, their medical and sanitary conditions. This assessment gives rise to the attribution of social criteria levels: 1, 2 or 3 (1 being awarded to the most fragile families).

These same levels are used for the young people who make up the “Follow-Up” programme (students in middle school and then high school after having followed the primary school programme with Bayon) and for the recruitment of students for the Pastry School.
IMG_1042
Thanks to close monitoring and annual visits, our social team are able to assess any changes in our families’ situation.

At the end of 2019, it came to our attention that some of the families, who were benefitting from the “Follow-Up” programme, had seen their financial situation improve with higher income. We had to make some difficult, but necessary decisions, passing these families, who were previously Level 3, to a newly created Level 4. This change of level meant stopping financial aid for 15 students (12 families), whilst maintaining school and professional support.

As far as we at Bayon are concerned, this decision is, above all, good news, in the sense that the families have become more independent, better armed to face their daily challenges, freer. They give us hope for the future and allow us to help those families who really need it, with the hope that they, when the time comes, will also be able to set off on their own.

Bayon school – Dealing with COVID-19

It has now been close to four months that COVID-19 has spread across the planet. Even if Cambodia has officially registered very few cases and no deaths, the country has not been spared and its population is suffering from the loss of jobs and the lack of tourist activity. Bayon School is doing their best to help the families during this unprecedented crisis.


Support the families – The first urgency

Since mid-March, no tourist has been allowed to enter the country and the large majority of the hotels, restaurants and spas have closed, leaving thousands of workers with no jobs and no compensation from the Cambodian government. Many of our families have been affected, losing their primary source of income which allowed them to meet the basic needs of 8-10 people. Furthermore, the children who used to go to school were being fed breakfast and lunch at the canteen, one thing less for the parents or grandparents to provide. Now they are at home and need feeding by their families, adding an additional charge.

Faced with this critical situation, Bayon School reacted quickly. From Week 1, all the vegetables grown by the famers invested in the Green Project were bought by the NGO and then distributed free of charge to the parents of our pupils. This guaranteed a salary for these women farmers and the insurance that the children would continue to eat healthy vegetables. In addition, our social teams studied the families very closely and we started distributing rice to those in desperate need from the second week after the school closure. Special thanks to our donors and the company AMRU Rice for their precious support, which allowed us to finance the rice and vegetables.

Closure of the Pastry School and Coffee Shop – What happens next?

At the Pastry School, we had to send our 26 students back to their families and, as a result and out of obligation, close the shop. The Coffee Shop of the Bayon Pastry School, opened more than 4 years ago, covers 50 % of the budget required for the pastry/baking training programme. Its closure means a significant loss of income for the NGO, which we have been able, in part, to compensate through the generosity of our donors. After two weeks of adjustment and holidays for the catering staff, we put in place several projects in preparation for the re-opening: inventory, storage, planting in the gardens, painting the walls, Spring cleaning, … In the end, the team was very busy. In addition, Sokhouern and Sokly developed a brand-new range of bread with no fewer than 10 new references for sale in our future bakery. They had the time to test new recipes to ensure a wide range of products that we will be able to offer the hotels and restaurants once they can re-open. Finally, since the end of April, the teachers have put in place online lessons for our students, who, each day, receive videos and telephone calls to keep them up to date and help them revise their lessons.

Social follow-up, survey and report

Our social teams have been very committed during this period. They worked firstly on identifying the families with the most difficulties in order to help them in the best way possible. This crisis has also given us the possibility to take a big step back and analyse the impact of our actions on the children and their education. A further study was led with the alumni of the Pastry School, with the aim of updating the details of our former students, analyzing their career paths and reviewing their situation one to five years after graduating.

And our communication?

We have launched the huge undertaking of redoing the website for Bayon School. It will be revealed soon! And we are trying, as best we can, to stay in touch with all the friends of Bayon School, who, we know, stand by our side. An enormous thank you for your help which has allowed us to manage this crisis and help our families as much as possible. We hope to reopen the schools very soon and see again the happy, smiling faces of our pupils as they play outside.

PARTNERSHIP WITH PSE

PARTNERSHIP WITH PSE

PARTNERSHIP WITH PSE ASSOCIATION

As presented and voted at the AGM in Paris, June 2019, the partnership project between Bayon School and PSE is now underway.

WHY THIS PARTNERSHIP ?

Since its beginning 20 years ago, the Bayon School has made tremendous progress, recruiting many talented people, achieving well-deserved success & continually launching new initiatives. It is still hugely rewarding to participate actively in the education of so many underprivileged children from Siem Reap, from signing them up for their primary school years and following them through their secondary years, to developing the Pastry School & Coffee Shop and now by providing the necessary know-how to help families participate in the Green Project.
However, at the same time, we have made some observations;
With the primary school located within the temples, we are no longer able to expand. This forces us to make very difficult decisions when selecting new pupils as we cannot satisfy all the requests, of which there are far too many. Furthermore, our primary school pupils from twenty years ago are now grown-up; we have supported them throughout their studies, but many of them are now looking for jobs. Finally, whilst our “small is beautiful” set-up allows us to be creative, flexible and reactive as well as “entrepreneurial”, it also suffers from the fragility of a small structure.
With all this in mind, we set out on a search for a partner, who would allow us to keep our values, our DNA, our “footwork”, but who would also open doors to new initiatives and professional opportunities for the children, giving the Bayon School long term security, from both an organisational and a societal point of view.

Deux femmes posent pour une photo

PSE “Pour un Sourire d’Enfant”, (For a Child’s Smile) an association set up in 1996 by Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, quickly emerged as the ideal association for this partnership.
PSE is a charity registered in Cambodia where it currently takes care of over 6500 children and their families through financial support. PSE also has a number of vocational schools where students can learn a skilled trade in hospitality, management or sales & technical.

PSE has developed its activities mainly in Phnom Penh with some branches outside the capital, but the association has also been overwhelmed by its success and is now facing some challenges with its local branches.

Deux maisons et un jardin

In the Siem Reap branch, where there are around 10 full-time employees (social team and operational support), PSE currently helps 414 children who are enrolled in local state schools and accompanies 200 families with financial support. It also has a “reception centre” with various buildings on a large plot of land close to the town centre, but this is not currently being optimised, Under the terms of our agreement, the Bayon School will take on the management of these activities in Siem Reap through synergies of both associative models and the local teams.

Right now, the first project on this plot will be the setting up of an experimental farm of permaculture – or “integrated agriculture” – which will be the basis of a future vocational training programme. More news and photos of this project in the next newsletter!

Des gens travaillent dans un jardin

Des travaux pour aménager un jardin potager