Lower Secondary School Development Program
Today only 35 per cent of Cambodian children make it to Grade 7. Of the students who do enroll in lower secondary school, 22 per cent drop out before completing a full basic education in Grade 9. Although the enrolment rate in primary schools is considered satisfactory at 96.4 per cent, completing school is a rare privilege for the lucky few (Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Education Statistics 2011).
TLC believes that Cambodian communities are experts in their own development and that education is key. A foundation of basic education and literacy expands an individual’s economic opportunities and is a powerful vehicle for awareness of human rights, social justice issues, and health.
One reason for the low access to and quality of education is lack of community involvement in secondary schools. The short-term pressures of poverty make it difficult for many families to commit to the longer-term goals of education. Poverty also drives the opportunity costs higher as children age and their potential to contribute to family income increases. In addition, teacher salaries are miserly, and schools are badly under-resourced.
The Lower Secondary School Development Program (LSSDP) is a 3-year, community-driven model for school development. The LSSDP is unique in its focus on empowering communities to take ownership of their local state school to drive improvements in education from the grassroots level.
The goal of the LSSDP is to increase community involvement in school development to improve access to and quality of education in Cambodia.
- Build the capacity of School Support Committees to work with their school community to develop and implement a school development plan that will increase learning opportunities for students.
- Provide support and resources to address the issues identified by the school community and the School Support Committee.
School Support Committees
By working closely with the School Support Committee, a government-mandated group of parents, teachers, and influential people in the community, the LSSDP supports the Cambodian Government’s education development policies at the grassroots level and aligns with the rights-based Child Friendly Schools framework, the UN Millennium Development Goals and TLC’s core values.
Core program activities include training for School Support Committee members in topics such as the basics of communication and fundraising, and additional collaborative learning opportunities such as school exchange visits and education awareness campaigns. The LSSDP also supports the work of the SSC in their community by providing teaching and learning resources, encouraging action in the community, and facilitating support networks.
School development activities are needs based and therefore unique to each school. Activities range from building the infrastructure needed for a safe school that the community can take pride in (school gates, new toilet blocks, etc.) to purchasing teaching materials, providing small scholarships for the poorest children, or planting school gardens.
At the conclusion of the three-year program, communities are empowered to participate in the education process and to collaboratively design strategies for school development. In addition, communities that are empowered to value education are more able to support children through the challenges of completing a basic education.
For more information about the methods This Life Cambodia use when working with communities, please click here.
For a more detailed look at the LSSDP approach to community-led school development, download the LSSDP Summary here.
Lower Secondary School Development Program Projects
TLC will begin the selection process for three new program schools in July 2013. You can help by clicking here!
Follow the links below to learn about the impact of the LSSDP in the first two program schools.