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The Battambang Education Project provides education opportunities to young people from very poor families in nine provinces in Northwest Cambodia.
The vast majority of Cambodia’s 16 million people live in rural areas, with families struggling to grow enough food crops to survive.  They are exposed to the exploitative practices of middlemen and farm-implement providers.  In addition, some farmers have to take loans, putting up their land as collateral, and end up losing their farm when they cannot repay the loan.  Many parents cannot afford to send their children to school and prefer them to help with the farm or earn some income.  About half of the country’s population is aged 24 years and below, but only 28% of primary school students go on to lower secondary school and only half of these go on to upper secondary school. In addition, with Battambang Prefecture’s proximity to Thailand, many parents cross the border to work, leaving their children behind, at risk of trafficking and neglect. Thanks to kind supporters like you, Jesuit Mission can assist the Battambang Education Project to ensure a better future for Cambodian youth from poor families by providing access to education, supporting parents in putting their children through school, and forming the young people holistically so that they can contribute to building a just, open and free society. The project provides scholarships; training in areas such as leadership, psycho-social and environment; counselling; accommodation and essential services for the poorest students aged 12-24.  It runs six hostels across the prefecture for students from remote villages.  These hostels provide not just board and lodging, but learning facilities and guidance under a supervised student-formation program.

Students from remote villages live and study under the supervision of caring adults. 

 “The support of Jesuit Mission has been critical to the development and success of our education project.  It has made education possible for hundreds of youth in Battambang Prefecture, and we will always be grateful for the tremendous support extended.  We hope for our continued partnership, without which it will be impossible to continue our shared work on this scale.”
-Msgr Enrique Figaredo SJ, Apostolic Prefect, Battambang Prefecture
Orphans or youth abandoned by their parents are given priority, as they are deemed the most vulnerable.  Other students in the program come from very poor families, with none or few of their siblings having finished Grade 12; or from villages that are very far away from schools or universities, or those who do not have relatives they can stay with near the schools. All of the hostels now have more young women than men.

Sela's Story

Sela is 23 and is the first of his family to not just finish secondary school, but go on to university.  Of his four older brothers, his eldest brother finished Grade 2 and is a farmer in the rice fields.  Another brother reached Grade 10.
Sela has lived in Tep Im hostel in Battambang for three years.  He wants to teach agriculture and is studying horticulture at the University of Battambang. His family lives in Pailin, which is about 80 km from Battambang.  His father lost his leg in a landmine accident, and the family earns very little from farming.  Sela’s parents could not afford to send any of their five children to school. However, the family has been helped by the Battambang Education Project and the local church.  Fr Pedro, who used to be in charge of the Tep Im hostel, helped him with a bicycle, hostel accommodation and the full expense of education.  Two of Sela’s brothers also stayed at Tep Im hostel for a while. Sela is finding it difficult in university because all the material and books are in English, which he had not learnt in school.  However, he perseveres at his biology, microbiology, statistics, English, agriculture and botany classes.  He has also been the class/student leader of his class every year for the past 11 years.
A big challenge for me while I am studying is my worry about my parents who are growing old and have to keep working.  My father is 71 and has a disability and my mother is 60.”
Our programs could reach many more people through your generous financial support. Thank you for accompanying us on our mission.