Select Page
Sponsoring the Bayon School – Why?

Sponsoring the Bayon School – Why?

The Bayon school welcomed its first pupils in the primary school almost 20 years ago in 1993 and over the years, our association has grown and diversified. A program to accompany students in secondary school, a pastry and bakery school, training in agro-ecology, development of income-generating activities for the families of the students… all of this has been made possible thanks to the precious support of a group of people: our godfathers, godmothers and sponsors.

They started out as a small group of about twenty;  now they form a community of more than 450. The Bayon School is a big family, in which each person plays a role: from the volunteers, to Thorth, our executive director, to the occasional donor. The sponsors play a central role in this wonderful picture because they not only bring our projects to life, but also support them in the long term. Accountants, artists, school teachers, from Paris to the small villages of the Vaucluse, London or Singapore, so many different profiles that constitute the primary strength of our projects.

Our gratitude is immense and thanking these men and women is a priority for us. Our regular exchanges with them allow us to maintain strong links over the years. An updated presentation of our projects every other month, a newsletter which discusses fundamental issues every quarter, a direct link with news from the field on social networks and through direct exchange with our communication manager… We do everything possible to place them at the heart of our projects. Authenticity and sincerity are the key words of this relationship which allows us to provide quality education to children living within the Angkor temples.

By sponsoring the Bayon School, they have decided to support this quality education, entirely free of charge for more than 450 young people, taking care of all the basic needs which are necessary to the proper development of children/students. While a quality education is essential to progress in life, it is at least as important to foster personal development through recreational, cultural and sports activities.  This is why we have integrated various activities into the school curriculum, from physical activity to cultural and artistic awareness.

You too can take part in this magnificent web of human links (participation from 13€ per month). All the information about sponsorship and other ways of support on our website: https://www.ecoledubayon.org/nous-soutenir/

Four lessons to be learned from this exceptional year

Four lessons to be learned from this exceptional year

Thorth, Vantha, Rithy, Sakoth and Soky come back with their words on these last two years and on what lessons they have learned. What tools will we keep in the future? What did we learn?

Resilience, solidarity and adaptability: these are the terms that have guided their work and become the driving force behind their commitment.

Lesson #1: Learn to anticipate to better apprehend

If you ask Thorth, Deputy Executive Director of the Bayon School, what he remembers about the past year, his first words are “unpredictable” and “stressful”. Indeed, his main goal over the past few months has been “to make sure that we would be able to maintain the education of all our students at a stable level: we had to consider which were the essential actions where we needed to mobilize our efforts and which were the ones where we could slow down, to make sure that we would be able to meet this goal, despite the situation.” 

He explains that we had to consult, debate and make decisions to respond to the emergency, without knowing how the crisis would evolve: “This taught me to analyze and question myself more about future issues in order to anticipate this type of situation as well as possible, even though they are exceptional.”

“We learned to adapt quickly and to find a solution to each problem, thanks to the commitment of the entire team: the challenge was to move forward day after day and to think about our actions in the short term to ensure an optimal efficiency.”

Thorth, Deputy Executive Director.

Lesson #2: Communicate better to be aware of each other’s needs

The implementation of online courses within our training and the obligation to visit our primary school students in the villages made us realize that it was essential to be aware of everyone’s needs.

“We became aware of everyone’s needs because we were with them on a daily basis, in their villages and their environment. We were able to discuss with the parents, especially those whose children are having the most difficulty. Today, this allows us to go back to school knowing which students we need to follow more closely, even though we are back to functioning normally.”

Vantha, Primary School Director.

The development of online education – Zoom, YouTube and Telegram – means that our baking school students have been able to use these different communication channels to stay in constant contact with our teams and their peers. Sokly, our pastry teacher, and Rithy, the new director of the pastry school, were therefore never disconnected from the reality of each one, quite the contrary.

“Each platform had its purpose. Zoom was a way to discuss together any questions related to the courses but also a space where students could hear and exchange with each other. YouTube allowed students to review at their own rhythm and to prepare their questions for our online meetings. Finally, Telegram was our main tool to discuss more informal, but all the more important, subjects at this time: how they are feeling, their emotions about the crisis and how we can help them. It allowed us to stay connected with them and for them to feel that we were listening to them.”

Rithy, Pastry School Director.

Lesson #3: Focus on short and local circuits

When the town of Siem Reap closed and all activities were suspended, the Vegetable Garden Project team was faced with a major dilemma: how to sell the vegetables produced by our farmers and avoid losses? 

Most of the farmers could no longer move between villages while the vegetable production was increasing. They had no way of selling their vegetables and we needed to find solutions. Working with the social team and the follow up team, we decided to buy back the vegetables and then redistribute them to our beneficiary families. They were therefore assured of having an income to take care of their families and we were assured that our beneficiaries would have something to eat despite the loss of their jobs,” said Sakoth, manager of the vegetable garden project and the agro-ecology school. “This project has strengthened the work of our farmers and made them aware of the role they play in Bayon’s chain of support. They are increasingly motivated to learn and to become more involved, so that it benefits everyone.” 

From a more global perspective, the complete absence of tourists has had a considerable impact on our activities, mainly that of the Coffee Shop. For Thorth, it was the opportunity to rethink our relationship with the local population, so that we would not be completely dependent on tourists. “The closure of the Coffee Shop was not easy to manage since its income finances our pastry training program. We had to find new solutions. Today, we would like to develop local products so that we can serve a local clientele and increase our visibility in Siem Reap.

Sreyleak, Coffee Shop Manager.

Lesson #4: Working better as a team for greater efficiency

The social team, in constant contact with our students and their families, has been at the heart of our actions for many months. Their work has been essential in following up with our families and responding effectively to the emergency. Soky, head of the social team, is proud of the work accomplished by her colleagues.

“We had to work hand in hand and it was not always easy. We had to think about our actions as a team, to divide the tasks. We realized what needed to be done and had to prepare ourselves to be more effective in the field. I’m really proud of our work; we’ve been busy, it has been hard work, but we have never stopped thinking about the families and the children.”

Soky, Social Team Manager.

Outside the Bayon School team, it was also necessary to work closely with the local authorities, as it was difficult to get around. “We worked jointly with the village and community chiefs. They often acted as a relay between our beneficiaries and our teams, which allowed us to keep in touch, even when we could not move between areas,” explains Thorth.

What we remember from that time is the force of teamwork: we can help each other to help those most in need. The team is more close-knit now than ever before.

Become aware of its role

Become aware of its role

 It has been 4 months since I landed in Cambodia and the time has flown by. Since my release from quarantine, it has been a whirlwind of discoveries and sometimes I feel like I only arrived yesterday…. 

I had been warned that Siem Reap was all over the place and that the passage of Covid had had a considerable impact on the town; add to all that the renovation of the roads and the first impression is –  how can I say – dusty? 

Furthermore, the closing of 80% of the hotels, restaurants and bars gave the city, at that time, the appearance of a ghost town. Even though the shock was a bit brutal, I had had the time to anticipate it and prepare myself for it, which surely made my arrival smoother than it could have been.

After these first impressions, I was able to meet the team of the Bayon School and discover what we – the school, the local team, all the hard work – are committed to achieving. And what a joy! 

I was able to visit the agro-ecology school, the pastry school, where the offices are, and the primary school, such a special place being located within the temples and sheltered from the sun and the noise of the city. If all the schools were still closed, the discovery of these places allowed me to put real images on those I had imagined.

I also visited the farmers to discover their vegetable gardens and was impressed by the work of these women who work the land, often alone, and whose production allows us to feed our beneficiary families. There is so much to say about them and the few pictures I was able to take often speak for themselves.

I remember that, after this first visit, Sakoth, the agroecology program manager, took me back into town on his motorcycle and, having no idea which way we were going, I let myself be driven around. What a surprise when I realized that we were on the road to the temples as I saw rise before me these magnificent stones and the impressive Angkor Wat.

I was stunned by this spectacle and realized how very lucky I am to be here, in the middle of a pandemic.

Today, 4 months later, I have had time to find my feet and I know Siem Reap (almost) like the back of my hand. The sanitary situation has clearly improved since September and we no longer have any restrictions, which allows us to appreciate the town differently. The roads are almost finished, we can see some tourists coming back and this gives us hope that we are heading towards better times – even if the situation in Europe alarms many people.

My work has taken on its full dimension by being here. I know why and for whom I am involved, I see the results of our actions and I observe the progress we are making. I have exchanged with the team, I have listened to their life stories and their reflections and I am aware of the role we have as volunteers in the field.

I wonder about what we have and must bring to them, how to be a support, at their side, whilst letting them guide their projects because they, more than anyone, know the issues of their country, the consequences of their history and the situations in which the most vulnerable populations are. I think it is important, when we go into the field, to be aware of these different issues and to know how to take a step back when the reflection is too far from our reality and from what we think we know about the country we are visiting. 

I feel that we need to be aware of the fact that, while most of us are just passing through, for those who live here and work at the Bayon School, this really is a lifelong commitment.

I see my role as a small hand in the shadows, helping to shine some light on the team’s work. I like to share my knowledge with them and give them the tools to do it for themselves, to exchange with them and to question myself on the way we articulate our work to make sure that it bears fruit. 

I like the idea that we are here to sow what we know and direct the work towards fair and sustainable decisions. Socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. Not to reproduce the same patterns that we all know, but to offer our children a better future and to give them the keys to understand today’s world whilst designing their own world for the future. 

During my time at the Bayon School, I hope to develop these ideas, to tell the story behind the hard work, to share the questions we ask and the answers we find. I hope to transcribe in my writing and the contents I share with you, this dynamic that we want to establish, to question myself and to question you in turn on the difficulties encountered here, which, although they are physically far from you, are very often the echo of what we encounter at home.

I hope to be able to show you the will and commitment of our members, of a local team that never loses sight of its objective: to offer children a quality education and to ensure them a better future.

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