Annual Activities Report 2018

Letter from the president

Dear Friends,

In 2018, 1128 extremely poor children in Burkina Faso, Morocco, Thailand and Cambodia, have successfully continued their schooling supported by the Pistorio Foundation. At the close of our thirteenth year of existence, I’m proud of the achievements of the thousands of children we have had on scholarship that have taken the opportunities offered them to study to improve their chances of a brighter future.  Over time we have witnessed with deep respect how children from impoverished communities have managed to transform their lives by studying diligently, despite adversities of extreme poverty, dire living conditions, degraded neighbourhoods, broken and sometimes hostile family backgrounds.  Since our founding, nearly 3.900 students have benefitted of our scholarship program, over 500 children have succeeded in completing their schooling and professional training, obtaining thereafter jobs that have allowed them to break their families’ intergenerational cycle of poverty. This is a great conquest for children and families who had all odds against them; we have deep respect for their resilience and strength, and they serve as models for all of us and the children that look up to them dreaming of a better future.  We owe it to them to give them their right to education and a future.

In a world with an ever-widening wealth gap, children are often left behind with few chances of choosing their destiny. Children from very poor communities are seldom supported by their families of origin in their schooling, they lack role models in their community to look up to, and they are more likely to fall ill and be worst hit by adversities.  It is especially difficult for very poor children to stay in school, as often their precarious living conditions force them to abandon school to find work.  This is why our long-term scholarships provide access not only to quality education but also to basic health care and nutrition.  All the children we support are provided with nutritious meals in schools and medical assistance. This maximises their chances of success in school and they are able to thrive over the years in a sheltered school environment that nurtures their potential and talents, encouraged and guided by caring, responsible, and capable teachers.  This has been the case for thousands of children we have supported to date, and our results are proven by the consistently high retention rate in our scholarship programs over the years, which has been consistently above 90% on average.

Recently, the world has witnessed the intensification of the effects of Global Warming as atmospheric CO2 build up and temperatures continue reaching record levels worldwide. Leading world scientists of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have published an alarming report in October this year ( warning that we have only 11 years to reverse the rise in CO2 and climate altering emissions to prevent a rise of average temperatures of over 1.5 degrees celsius compared to pre-industrial times, beyond which would mark a point of no return of climate collapse. As the natural disasters due to climate change will become more and more frequent and violent with continued global warming, the poorest communities will pay the highest toll.  Those with the most vulnerable shelters and livelihoods, and those who will not have the means to evacuate quickly and move elsewhere or protect themselves will suffer most.  And of these, as always, women and children will be the first and worst victims.   

Climate change risks engendering tens of millions of climate refugees in the coming years. Already today, droughts, extreme weather phenomena, and pronounced heat waves, have caused food and water shortages and loss of biodiversity and natural habitat that have created thousands of climate refugees in many parts of the world.

It is imperative that, in order to protect children and all future generations, humanity collectively recognise the state of Climate Emergency and take effective measures to contrast it.  Since the 1980s, I have claimed that the three biggest challenges facing humanity are Global Warming, Population Growth, and Wealth Inequality What we are seeing now is that Global Warming and Climate Change are the most urgent threat that need to be urgently tackled. We have very little time to act: we must act immediately, and we exhort all organisations in the non profit and private sector and governments to declare a Climate Emergency, to spread awareness on the subject, and to take immediate measures to protect our shared planet, starting with divesting from fossil fuels and transitioning by 2030 to 100% clean energy.

The Pistorio Foundaiton has expressed its support of the Fridays for Future (www.fridaysforfuture.orgmovement led by Greta Thunberg, since its launch. Fridays for Future brings together students, families, teachers, and civil society, in more than 70 countries, to protest every Friday to demand governments to commit to climate action. Without a planet there is no economy and no future for anybody. Today’s youth is the first generation that has grown up with the effects of climate change, and will have to deal with this problem, created by past generations, all their lives.

Let us all continue our missions and work with the awareness that all our actions and operations must be sustainable and that we must raise awareness on climate action in all our interactions. Expressing our gratitude to all our supporters and stakeholders, we look forward to continuing to pursue our mission to improve the living conditions of underprivileged children and doing our part to contribute to safeguarding our planet. Climate Change is everybody’s concern and everyone’s responsibility and coping with it is a precondition for sustainable development and wealth of all future generations.


Pasquale Pistorio

About us

The Pistorio Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Vimercate, Italy. It was founded by Pasquale Pistorio, former founding CEO and President of STMicroelectronics (1980-2004), in 2005, to protect children’s right to quality education, health and nutrition, considering these as essential preconditions for solid social development, particularly in the poorest regions of the world.

Through education, children acquire the skills, knowledge and tools needed to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. We believe that children should be granted free education from pre-school to professional school and/or university and that every child should be given the possibility to choose his/her destiny.  Today’s children will shape the world of tomorrow and we must give all children the same opportunities to become future citizens that can positively contribute to human progress and development.

With this deep conviction, we strive to give our students the best chances to succeed in school and therefore in life, supporting their long-term schooling from pre-school until professional school or university.  We are present in four countries – Burkina Faso, Morocco, Thailand, and Cambodia, and currently support over 1100 underprivileged children’s education and welfare.  Our systemic approach in these intervention areas involves working together with local partners, volunteers and local communities.  Our goal is to maintain maximum transparency and efficiency in our operations by keeping overhead costs at a minimum.  We are able to keep costs contained thanks to the work of numerous volunteers at our headquarters and on location, who also contribute to document projects, so that all donations received directly fund projects on location, while our staff costs are covered by Foundation’s existing capital.  Every year we measure given indicators to evaluate our impact to guide our future plans and actions.



Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the living conditions of children in developing countries with a focus on education.

Our dream is that no child should be ever left behind and should be able to access quality education and health services and affordable quality nutrition.  To achieve a world fit for children, every child’s rights as stated in the “UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”( be implemented, enforced, protected and respected worldwide.  The Fourth United Nations Sutainable Development Goals calls for free primary and secondary school education for all children and youth by 2030.  With 54 million children not enrolled in primary school and 262 million children and youth overall out of school, we are still far from universal education (UNDP and UNICEF).  According to the UNDP, “Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development.”

Every child, regardless of ethnic origin, race, gender, age, or background, is entitled to an education and to health care assistance, and ought never to be subjected to exploitation, poverty, hunger, deprivation, or suffering from poverty or cruelty.  Every child is entitled to protection and development of his or her highest potential.  We believe that human dignity depends on our ability to protect and nurture our children.

Our Approach

Our holistic approach is two-fold: we ensure long-term scholarships to extremely poor children and improve school and village infrastructure to promote sustainable development of families and communities.

Our long-terms scholarships accompany every child from preschool to professional school and/or university and ensures that they also have access to basic nutrition and primary health care throughout their schooling. The Foundation also addresses issues of community empowerment and development by intervening in village infrastructure projects such as clean water and electricity supply as well as agriculture activities.

In accomplishing our mission, we also spread awareness on the current state of children’s living conditions and promote values of solidarity, cooperation, justice, giving, and volunteering.

Our motto summarises our core belief and mission, “On the way to school, on the way to life.” Through education, we are able to lift children and hence entire families and communities out of poverty and towards a self sustainable future, breaking their intergenerational cycles of poverty.

How we operate

The Foundation concentrates its efforts over time in the geographical areas it operates for lasting long-term impact.  The objective is to support not only children in need in their academic path, but also support the community towards self-sustainability.

The Foundation addresses the villages’ most urgent needs in relation to children’s rights – children’s access to quality education, to basic health care, clean drinking water and sanitation, and to a safe environment as well as village development through agriculture and income generation activities.

We work through a network of volunteers in close collaboration with selected experienced local NGOs. Staff at our headquarters and on location coordinate and oversee projects with the support of volunteers.  Board Members and volunteers donate their time and skills and travel on location to oversee and document project missions at their own expense.

In the villages we support, the school becomes the center of interactions of villagers. In school, children not only follow the national curriculum, but they also learn how to cultivate food, how to preserve their environment, and how to collaborate with their peers to take care of the school infrastructures, such as working together to keep the school grounds clean. Every school is equipped with kitchen, canteen and sanitation facilities, and students learn basic rules of proper hygiene. Often, children bring home this knowledge and help educate their own families on notions of hygiene and healthy life habits. Parents meet with school staff and project staff regularly to provide feedback on the child’s progress and on the school’s and teachers’ performance.  Parents learn about the importance of education and hence contribute to motivate their children to attend school and dedicate their time to studying.

The quality meal students receive at school at lunch time helps ensure a good level of nutrition for children, and thus better health and development. Scholarships relieves families of the burden of providing for their children’s education as well as food during the day, and further motivates parents to keep their children in school.

Overall, our scholarship program includes transport to school, school supplies, uniforms, school meals, yearly medical check-ups, and dormitory fees if their schools are far away from their homes.  We have built several schools and improved the infrastructure of many preschools, primary and secondary schools by adding sanitation facilities, kitchens and canteens, libraries, water systems.



Our Guiding Principles are integrity, transparency, efficiency and commitment to our mission in all our daily activities and operations. Our core structure is constituted by the following stakeholders:

  • Board of Directors govern the Foundation meeting regularly together with the Director of Operations to define the strategies and guidelines for the Foundation and review progress of projects and approve new initiatives;
  • Country Managers work on the field in close collaboration with local partners and report progress of projects and coordinate and maintain relations with local institutions and government bodies;
  • Volunteers travel to locations and assist in field missions, projects auditing, documenting projects through video materials, interviews to beneficiaries and stakeholders, creating and maintaining online content and communication, and assisting in fundraising activities.

As per our bylaws (Article 8), operational costs will not exceed 10% of our annual budget, and as such costs are covered by the Foundation’s initial capital, all additional donations received will be directly devolved to our projects on location. Every Euro donated will be entirely destined to our scholarship programs

Organisational chart of Pistorio Foundation


Key Results 2018

1.     Beneficiaries

  • Students on Scholarship: 1.128 direct beneficiaries
  • Students who completed Professional School: 65 students

2.     Investments:

  • 2018 Investment Budget: 243.100,00 Euro
  • 2018 Overheads Costs (legal/auditing/banking fees): 24.000 Euro (9,87% of Total Budget)

Key Results Since 2005


  • nearly 3900 direct beneficiaries
  • 578 students have completed twelve years of schooling including professional or vocational school

Intervention areas

Context and challenges

Children on their way to school wearing traditional Hill Tribe Costume

In the past two decades, Thailand has experienced remarkable development, making it today the 2nd largest economy by GDP in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. During this time, poverty in the country has significantly decreased, however economic and social progress has not benefitted all layers of society. The wealth gap has widened and entire communities still lack access to basic services, particularly ethnic minority groups and immigrants from neighbouring Myanmar and Laos.

Universal access to education and health care stillremains a challenge, especially for children from remote and rural areas, ethnic minorities and stateless people.[1]






[1]According to the Education for migrant children Report from ILO – International Labour Organization- Sept 2014  (;jsessionid=DGLJZWzc6vTB7LkFpPK4L1h3FlvpSGtxpDFmKJytkZfZMJYQTJtM!-797203918?type=document&id=25735)


Pistorio Foundation’s presence in the country

Chiang Rai Village Project

The Pistorio Foundation began its interventions in Thailand in 2006, once new government legislation granted access to primary school education to stateless children[2].

[2]In 2005, the Royal Thai Government issued the Cabinet Resolution on Education for Unregistered Persons, which provided the right to education at all levels for children in Thailand who lack legal status

The Foundation began thus supporting underprivileged children from remote hill tribe villages by building school infrastructures and providing transportation to the nearest school.

We initially focused on the Chiang Rai provincein northernThailand, at the border with with Myanmar and Laos, where minority population lived in extreme poverty, sometimes lacking the most basic needs and often suffering from severe malnutrition: Over the years, new laws have given more rights to all school age children to access public schools, and this has allowed the Foundation to extend scholarships to ethnic minority children of all ages, from primary school all the way to professional school.

In twelve years, we have been able to reach over 3.300 hill-tribe minority children mostly from Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai Provinces.

Our scholarships cover: school materials, backpacks, uniforms, shoes, winter jackets and raincoats, meals in school, medical checkups, transportation to school, school fees and dormitory expenses for those students from the most marginalized villages for whom daily transport to school is not possible. In school, students also learn about basic hygiene and health practices, helping to prevent common illnesses.

Children are often able to impart this knowledge to their siblings and families, contributing to educate their entire community. School staff also work with parents to enforce newly acquired notions on health and hygiene and communicate the importance of education for children’s future. Together with improved school sanitation facilities and clean water supplies to villages, these efforts have contributed overall to decrease the incidence of common ailments and disease in all the villages we work with, while improving significantly the standard of living. Healthier children perform better at school, require less support from parents, as they are able to dedicate their time to their work and do not need to pay for their children’s health care or schooling.

Education, access to basic nutrition and health care in schools and improved school and village infrastructures have triggered a virtuous cycle of growth and development in all our villages. Parents have come to appreciate the value of education and cooperate fully with the Foundation to support their children in their studies and encourage them to attend classes and study diligently.

Since 2006, the Foundation has built more than 38 school infrastructures including primary and secondary schools, kindergartens, nurseries, teacher accommodations, libraries, computer rooms, school kitchens and canteens, sanitation facilities, and playgrounds.

In 2018, we supported 1079 students with our scholarship program in 11 schools, 7 colleges and 3 universities. In view of the rapid development of the villages we have worked with, and realising the need to expand to new poles in need in the region, we have partnered in the project with the Centro Italiano Aiuti all’Infanzia which boasts a long time presence in South East Asia with different projects in the region focused on education. In 2016, we decided to combine our competences with CIAI in Thailand and work in synergy to provide in depth support to improve the quality of schooling (which is a widespread challenge in the country), strengthen the involvement of communities in school life, improving the interaction between parents and the school, and promote new opportunities of income generation for families.  As the Foundation has relocated its headquarters to Italy, it has taken a strategic decision to concentrate its efforts on immigrant communities in need in southern Italy and populations in extreme poverty in Africa. This has led us to decide to handover the continuation of the Thailand projects to CIAI moving forwards and effectively as of 2019, considering CIAI has the local capacity and experience to effectively expand the project in the region to reach out to new communities. This year, CIAI has been integrating the activities of our local branch, Pistorio Thailand Foundation (PTF) with its field operations, in view of possibly cooperating further in the coming years.

In 2018, the “Reading for Change” and “Green Project” projects were launched in our schools.

The first one was made possible thanks to an important donation of books and journals, to promote reading skills and passion for reading among students, by fostering spontaneous reading or providing academic support. The program involves having students attend for several hours a week the school library.

Student involved in the “Green Project”

The “Green Project” was an initiative of VBAC professional school, to raise awareness on issues of sustainability with students and to effectively implement waste management practices. Students at the dormitory learned how to separate and differentiate waste and sell plastic waste to specific agents. A green cone was developed and applied for the biowaste at the dormitory, and students were encouraged to extend this practice to their homes of origin and educate in turn their own families.

The Pistorio Thailand Foundation worked with other schools to apply the Green Project program including the following schools implementing different initiatives:

  • in Ban Mae Chan School the “Recycle Bank” program of collecting and differencing waste and recovering money from the resale of waste is run and operated by the students’ committee and funds are reinvested in school infrastructure;
  • in Huay Nam Khun Vittaya School the “Do it Yourself (DIY) Project for kids” consists in reusing and up cycling materials so that they do not go to waste, such as learning how to compost, using materials for art projects or play constructions;
  • the School-Tor.5 was awarded the prestigious recognition of a “Zero Waste School”. The school integrates environmental practices in its whole teaching process: teachers and students regularly conduct environmentally oriented activities as part of the curriculum. For example, the canteen has reduced and minimised the use of plastic bags and styrofoam encouraging the use of ceramic mugs or jugs for students, using banana leaves in place of plastic bags, and using hand towels in bathrooms instead of paper napkins.

From Our Beneficiaries

Graduation day of Students at VBAC Professional School

In March 2018, 29 beneficiary students graduated from various colleges in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Lampang provinces. Of these, 16 students graduated from VBAC Professional School (6 students in Tourism, 3 in Mechanics, 3 in Accounting, 1 in Retail and 3 in Marketing). 13 will now be applying for jobs in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and 3 will continue their studies to achieve a Higher-Level Vocational Certificate  Graduates from other Professional Schools will also be applying for jobs and a few will return to their home villages to help out their families in the fields.

LCAT-Lamphun College of Agriculture and Technology – Ms.Mhii Tu’s story

Mii Tu Cher Mue has been on Foundation scholarship since Primary School.
She attended Ban Mai Pattana Primary School and ChaoFah Ubonrattana Secondary School in Chiang Mai and subsequently enrolled at Lamphun College of Agriculture and Technology in the Science-Based Agriculture Programme. Mhii Tu has always been a dedicated and hard-working student and her dream now is to put in practice the skills she has acquired in income generating activities in her village, and to succeed in obtaining Thai citizenship for which she has been waiting many years and hopes to have granted soon.

MII TU CHER MUE with her Family and the Day of her Graduation

Chairak with his brother in their traditional hmong costum and the day of graduation from vbac high vocational certificates level.they both graduated in mechanics


VBAC (Mechanics) – Mr.ChaiRak  Sae Wang’s story

ChaiRak Sae Wang is originally from the Hmong Village of Ban Pha Phueng, an 8 hours’ drive from Chiang Rai city. Villagers are mostly farmers cultivating primarily corn, ginger, and black galingale. The community is very isolated: there are no connections to telecommunication systems nor access to electricity. The main source of energy comes from solar and hydroelectric power. Despite these challenges, Chai Rak has a very collaborative spirit and pleasant character. He has stood out throughout his schooling as a very responsible and mature student, successful both in school as well as socially, acting as president of his VBAC dormitory elected by fellow students. Throughout the years, he has always been kind and helpful to teachers and friends.

Both Chai Rak and his older brother were supported by the Pistorio Foundation throughout their secondary and Professional School studies at VBAC. Today, his family is proud of their success. Aware of the value of education and the opportunities that it brings, Chai Rak has decided to continue his schooling for 2 more years to achieve a Higher Vocational Certificates Level



Key achievements in 2018

Scholarship Program

    • Direct beneficiaries 1.079 students from 11 schools, 7 colleges and 3 universities, coming from Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Tak Provinces, supported in various schools from Kindergarten to University level
    • 53 students enrolled in professional schools, universities and vocational training centers in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Lampang provinces
    • 29 students completed professional or vocational school education and received a diploma
    • 2 students graduated at high Vocational Certificates level
    • 3 students enrolled on Public Health programme at University Level

Scholarship program results

  • Retention rate: 100%
  • Pass rate:100%

Logistic Support

  • 70 students received transportation from villages to the closest schools in their area
  • 234 uniforms have been distributed

Outcomes since the Inception of the Program

  • The project was launched in 2006 and has reached so far 3.317 students benefitting of scholarship program;
  • In 13 years we completed 38 infrastructures projects, namely: 3 Primary Schools, 3 Teacher Accommodations buildings, 1 Secondary School, 3 Kindergartens, 7 Dormitories, 3 Libraries, 3 Computer Rooms, 5 Preschools, 2 Playgrounds, 1 Arts and Music Classroom Building, 3 Canteens, 3 Clean Water Systems, and 1 Health Post.

Burkina Faso

Context and challenges

Despite international attention and efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger as part of the UN Millennium Development Goals, in Burkina Faso more than 1.5 million children are still considered at risk of food insecurity[3], and it is estimated that only 1/3 of the 350,000 children, in need of emergency medical assistance, receive appropriate therapies[4].

With almost half of the population living with less than $1.25 a day, well under the poverty line (residing only 10% in urban areas and the remaining 90% being spread out in rural areas) Burkina Faso ranked 185 out of 188 countries[5], in terms of development. Poverty and food insecurity are strongly connected; an estimation of almost 200.000 Burkinabé children under 5 years of age, according to UNICEF, are at risk of severe acute malnutrition[6]. Hunger leads to many other problems, apart from health, such as child labor, compelled by family needs, leading to exploitation and often slavery. An estimated 82,000 people, in 2018, were living under “modern slavery” conditions and often children are the most vulnerable victims[7].

Struggling for daily survival, education of children – and especially of girls – is often the least of the concerns for many Burkinabé families. The costs of education are far above their financial meansand are not culturally considered a priority. High school costs approximately US$50 per year, that is over a month’s salary of most, and considering the high number of children for each family, it is not a financially viable option. Furthermore, the national education system presents many deficiencies: quality standards in terms of teacher trainings, continuity, teacher/students ratio remain very low. Classrooms are often very crowded with over 80 students per classroom and teachers are generally poorly qualified and trained. Therefore, education and schooling remain a faraway dream for many children: although improving from the lowest worldwide position of the 2008 UN Development Program Report, average literacy rate in Burkina Faso still remains below 40%[8].

[3] Burkina Faso on 2018 had a with Global Hunger Index equivalent to 27.7: and

[4] According to World Food Program

[5] According to UNDP Human Development Index in 2015. 43.7% of the population lives under the poverty line

[6] and



Pistorio Foundation’s presence in the country

Boulkiemde Village Project

Pistorio Foundation operates in Burkina Faso since 2006, in partnership with Centro Italiano Aiuto All’Infanzia (CIAI) and has been supporting over 100 needy students from the rural area of Boulkiemdé, in the mid-west of Burkina Faso. Students on scholarships have been granted and guaranteed access to free education, nutrition, hygiene training, and primary health care. Scholarships cover tuition costs, school meals (often the only daily meal students have), micronutrients supplements, uniforms, books and stationery, hygiene education, vaccinations and medications if needed, medical checkups and treatments. The project has also included the completion in 2007 of the Primary School facilities of Nibagdo: classrooms, sanitation facilities, kitchen and canteen were added to the existing buildings, and the expansion of the school allowed the enrolment of students to double.

The Pistorio Foundation also built the Secondary School of Sogpelce’ and provided for its same expansion two years after its construction to double classroom space and upgrade electric and water systems. The Secondary School holds over 700 students and has become one of the best secondary schools in the country, and the most reputed in west rural Burkina. It is a reference point for all villages in the region and boasts high quality teaching and top facilities.

Nibagdo Primary School

After the relocation of the Pistorio Foundation’s headquarters to Italy, the interest of the Foundation’s operations has been progressively focusing mostly on Africa, and on the complex relationships, dynamics and migrants’ flows affecting both European and African continents. The support and empowerment of African communities appears to be more and more relevant for international geopolitical balance. And the aim of the Foundation has been increasingly to promote the development of entire villages and the education on a broad sense, involving also children’ families to empower communities towards sustainable development. We are keen to support not only children’s education, but also their communities’ awareness in terms of civil rights, civic education and responsible parenthood.

Students at the Sogpelcé School

From Our Beneficiaries

Kiemdé Awa de Nongbzenga

“The help from my donors has supported me a lot since in secondary school.

My parents did not incur tuition fees, which was a blessing and relief for them as they could not afford it.

I thank God for helping me go to school because education is a good thing for everyone. Unfortunately, there are still parents who do not want to enroll their children in school and that is a shame. If I succeed, I intend to become a nurse.”



Kiemdé Thomas

My name is KIEMDE THOMAS, student in Terminale A4 class at SOGPELCE High School. I am very happy for the help I have been receiving, allowing me to receive an education. This help has permitted me to be well integrated into the society. I want to thank my donors for helping me in this journey. The chance to go to school has opened my mind, unlike my brothers who unfortunately did not have such opportunity. Thanks to this help, I can already imagine my dreams for the future, especially that of becoming a teacher one day.  Going to school also helps me to contribute in educating my siblings. I want to become an important figure and reference point for my parents and for my community. I also want to thank my parents, who have helped me from the beginning make this dream coming true”.

Key achievements in 2018

Scholarship Program

  • Direct beneficiaries:9 students (8 high school students; 1 primary school student)

Scholarship program results

  • Student teacher ratio: 75:1 vs 60:1 national average
  • Pass rate: 77,7%
  • Retention rate: 77,7%
  • Absentee rate of teachers: less than 10 days

Outcomes since the inception of the program:

  • The project started in 2006 reaching about 150 students
  • In 12 years, we completed the following infrastructure projects: Nibagdo Primary School expansion including school classrooms, kitchen, canteen, sanitation facilities, for 150 students; Sogpelce’Secondary School, including Classrooms, Sanitation Facilities, School Water and Electric Systems, Library, and Computer Room, for over 700 students.

Cambodia: The Library Project

Context and challenges

Still recovering from the devastating consequences of the tragic genocide and violences perpetrated by Khmer Rouge regime in the 70s, Cambodia has been experiencing, for its third decade now, a relatively peaceful period of economic and social growth.

Poverty has been reduced and health conditions have improved, although many challenges are still far from being solved: protection of democratic principles and respect of basic human rights is still fragile and often violated; insufficient nutrition standards and human trafficking still persist: an estimated 261,000 people in 2018, 1.68% of the population, and over 30% of children, are enslaved in modern-day Cambodia[9].

The public education system also presents many unsolved issues, underfunded and with relatively low-quality standards compared to other countries. The level of public education is generally poor, due to the lack of well trained and qualified teachers, to the low curriculum and education program standards, to the scarce availability of learning resources including ICT, and to poor and outdated school infrastructures.


Pistorio Foundation’s presence in the country: the Phnom Penh Back to School Project

Student Attending Business School Class

In 2006, the Pistorio Foundation partnered with Pour Un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE), a grassroots NGO that for the past 20 years, has been contributing in Cambodia to the improvement of quality education, by offering to marginalized and unprivileged children, especially scavengers, a safe environment to pursue their schooling, from primary school to professional school. The Pistorio Foundation has been supporting hundreds of beneficiaries since 2006 in the PSE “Catch Up” ” program and professional schools.
Students who are behind in their schooling are able to do two academic years in one, and hence complete all their primary and secondary school education in six years.  They then have the option of enrolling in one of multiple professional school programs at PSE.  Students holding a degree from PSE can apply for the best employments for their positions in the country, in the most reputed businesses, finding immediate employment and thereafter breaking their families’ intergenerational cycle of poverty. Scholarship aid and granting them their right to education allows them to become productive, dignified, and self-sufficient citizens of society.

2018 Library Project: Supporting and improving the PSE Remedial School library

Aware of the benefits of improving reading skills in children’s academic results and personal growth and development, and that the school library can become an area of gathering for school activities such as book reviews, presentations, theatre performances, poetry readings, and more, this year the Pistorio Foundation agreed to better equip the library of PSE Remedial School by funding the purchase of books and tablets. The new books included up to date course textbooks in Maths, History, English and French.

28 Tablets were bought to improve Khmer and English Language as well as math skills. Students have now access to educational apps as well as online learning platforms with self-testing programs. Students are able to independently measure and track their learning progress through these programs. 

Students at the Library of PSE Remedial School

The library caters up to 803 students during the school week. It has a specific reading schedule, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and 2 librarians facilitate and instruct students to read and learn in an effective way. Guided library sessions have become a core part of the curriculum for “slow learner” students in the supplementary classes program. Library activities have tremendously helped these students keep up with the school course demands.

The library was equipped with two more computer desktops to assist students in their homework and to complete research projects and assignments as well as improve the learning outcomes of students in Khmer Literacy, Mathematics and English.



From Our Beneficiaries

Months after the library improvements, we met Bak Somborl, the librarian and a 12 years-old student from the remedial school, Thoeun. They gave us their feedback to recent library developments.

Bak is 61 years old and he is part of PSE since 1999. “I started working as librarian at PSE in 2003. When I started, there were so few books that the few students who came here did not even have one each.

The library improved year after year, but our resources were still limited”. It was not the only problem: the only books available came from donors in France and all the texts were in French. It was a challenge for students to understand the books’ meanings. On top of that, the library space was very small and insufficient to welcome dozens of students. “I remember the first time I went to the library, I didn’t want to go back because I couldn’t read French” says Thoeun.

The Pistorio Foundation’s grant allowed the library to buy plenty of books in different languages as well as pedagogic materials and tablets. “With my assistant, we renovated the layout and now the library is organised by categories and kids know exactly where to go when they are looking for a specific type of book” says Bak. Thoeun was impressed by the changes: “I was amazed by the number of books, we have so many choices!
We even can have access to tablets now!”.

Novels, biographies, comic books, pedagogic and children’s books are available in Khmer, English and French, in varying degrees of difficulty.  “At the beginning, I used to read children’s books with simple stories but as I came more often, now I am able to read entire novels!” says Thoeun. Children also have the possibility to read and learn on tablets.
This is what I like most!
Thoeun says

Bak has noticed an increase of attendance. “Students really appreciate coming here now. The library is a place where they can relax and reduce their stress; they can come in a group or alone and meet friends here, play board games, do some groups activities such as poetry readings, or just read quietly on their own” says Bak. Thoeun agrees: “I like to go to the library because I can be with my friends but sometimes, I like coming here alone, it’s quiet and I can really be in my own world”.

The Pistorio’s grant financed my computer so now I can manage the stocks and plan the children’s schedule for their activities…I often plan sessions where I read books to children. After telling the story, we take time to discuss about what they understand and to share opinions” Bak explains. Bak and his assistant started theatre activities inspired by the stories they read. “Acting is so fun! It allows me to gain self-confidence” Thoeun says.

Bak has seen a real improvement in Khmer and English reading and writing skills of children. “They are improving their languages skills because they read more than before! And there is also a change in their behaviour; when they read stories daily about respecting values or culture, they learn life skills
Bak says.

When we ask Bak how he feels, he says: “Working in the library makes me so happy to see children grow as well as their knowledge. I think books can really change their life; the more they read, the more they learn and the more they are educated.” Thoeun also experienced this: “My family also told me that my behaviour has changed and I am a much calmer person now, I am sure it’s thanks to the time I spend here”.

Key achievements in 2018

Beneficiaries of the Library Project

  • 803 students: 700 students from PSE remedial school and 103 students from the grade 9 and grade 12 of External School Supplementary Classes

Services provided

  • Purchase of:
      • 28 tablets
      • 2 Desktop Computers (for student’s research)
      • 1382 Books (including 6 French dictionaries, 445 mathematics textbooks, 871 reading books)
  • Salary of one Library Assistant over the whole academic year 2017/18

Outcomes since the inception of the program:

  • 91 students have completed professional school since 2009
  • Over 180 long-term scholarships


Contex and Challenges

Morocco, a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, is a country with a rich diversity of cultures –
Berber, Arabic, European and African, and is one of the most stable politically and modern countries of north
Africa. Morocco’s pathway towards civil development is still long but on the right track: affected by the Arab
Spring protest, even if on a milder form in relation to other Maghreb countries, Morocco experienced a sharp
drop of government repression of political dissent since the mid-1990s. Considered an authoritarian regime
until 2014, it has been improving and defined on 2017 as a “partially free” “hybrid regime”[10].
Despite Morocco’s growth, the country is still faced with widespread poverty, child labor, discrepancies
between rural and urban areas, and gender inequality gaps in education leading to a significant number of
school drop-outs.
In order to tackle very high school dropout rates amongst children and youth and reduce illiteracy, the
government launched and implemented the Non-Formal Education Program (NFEP) in February 1998.
The program rolls out a flexible curriculum for school aged children between 9 and 17 years old, which allows
students to review basic knowledge and catch up deficiencies in courses of the national curriculum at an
individualised pace. Students are able in this program to catch up with their peers in public school, and the aim
is to reinsert them in the national school system.

Pistorio Foundation’s presence in the country

Morocco Back to School Project

As the Pistorio Foundation is focusing increasingly its efforts in the African continent to empower local communities and contribute to prevent immigration flux, Morocco represents an important gateway between Africa and Europe. The Pistorio Foundation started working in Morocco in 2010, in partnership with the Azrou Center for Community Development, to launch one of the first NFEP schools in the country.

Our goal was to rescue street children and child labourers in the neighbouring region and rural areas that had dropped out of school and whose right to an education had been denied due to extreme poverty among other reasons.

The NFEP is based on a strategy grounded on two approaches: one is curative while the other is preventive.

The first approach is to provide a second chance of education to all school drop-outs and the second is to fight illiteracy from the very beginning, through tutoring and educational support. The curriculum is flexible and adapting to the needs and level of each child. Staff are carefully selected to ensure a safe, nurturing and supportive environment which often is lacking in the public-school system. Our goal is to reinsert them in the school system once they are ready, that is once they have completed successfully their primary school examination, or yearly exams, and are up to par with their peers nationwide. This is usually the case within two years of the program. Some students have never been in school before or have missed many years of schooling and are older in age. If they are too old to be reinserted in the public school, they are enrolled in professional school. At our school, all students experience vocational training classes as well as regular school curriculum classes, to begin acquiring skills and an orientation towards a profession they may do in the future.

Vocational classes include initiation in wood making, embroidery and tailoring, cooking with pastry making and electrician. Extra-curricular activities such as sports and field trips are also offered to children, to help them build social skills, teamwork abilities, and socialise with friends in a relaxed and non-competitive context, so as to also give them opportunities for distraction and play.

The re-insertion of dropped-out students consists of 3 kinds of interventions:

  1. Support for the re-integration into public schools;
  2. Professional training programs;
  3. Apprenticeship programs in the Azrou Center to learn a trade.


Introducing Kids to Pastry Class

The program starts as a two-years program, involving children for at least two years in the NFEP courses, guiding them towards public school or vocational school or apprenticeship paths, giving students in the process the opportunity to rebuild their confidence lost in the formal school, by promoting their awareness, also through specific listening sessions. Staff also encourage activities such as theatre and life skills and information sessions on issues such as substance abuse, child rights, child labor and exploitation, to raise their awareness and understanding of their rights. The highly qualified team of professionals – teachers, school director and staff, and counsellor -have regular meetings with the children to monitor their progress and, if necessary, intervene and guide them to ensure their success in school and optimal personal growth and development. There is also a volunteering doctor and volunteer students from the Al Akhawayn University) who regularly take part in activities with students and assist staff to organize and run events.  The Azrou Center engages an external inspector from the Moroccan Ministry of the National Education who visits twice a month to evaluate the trainers and teaching quality. The Ministry has repeatedly commended the success of our school and program as one of the best in the nation, as confirmed by the very encouraging results and positive impact of our actions.

Our infrastructure is also exceptional: built by the Foundation in 2013, the school includes modern and functional classrooms, workshops, equipment for vocational training, canteen and kitchen, and sanitation facilities.  Children receive daily meals and snacks at the school prepared daily by our cooks. They are also provided with school materials, backpack, and all tuition costs and maintenance fees are supported by the Foundation Scholarship.

From Our Beneficiaries


My name is Chaima ABBASSI. Last year, I studied at Al Akhawayn University Community Center. I learned various skills that allowed me to remain in the education program with enormous motivation and determination.

Thanks to the support of the Center, after just one year of schoolwork in the Non-Formal Education program, I managed to enroll in the vocational School “ISTEA” in Azrou to start training in tailoring.

When I dropped out of school, I was desperate and thought that I had no chance left of continuing my education. Fortunately, my neighbors advised me to contact the NFE School in the Center, which opened new learning horizons that I was so much looking for. I am doing well in the vocational school because I learnt sewing and cutting skills with my teacher Hafida. Next month, I will be starting my first internship.”

 Abdennasser Haddaoui

My name is Abdennasser Haddaoui. After 1 year in the NFE program at the AUI community Center, I joined the Azrou Vocational School « ISTEA » where I study Building Electricity. I have started my internship to apply what I have learned: how to use electrical tools, to help installing wires and many other skills which will enable me to work.




Mohamed’s mother

My name is Oughanem Fadma, mother of the student Mohamed Ouassif who was enrolled last year in the NFE school. Before joining the NFE school, my son was studying at the Public Primary School, but he refused to continue in this school because he had a bad experience there that left him in distress. I tried to enroll him in another school, but he refused. The NFE school at the AUI center accepted that he attends during the whole year class with the presence of his grandmother, who has been accompanying him and attending his classes, which no other school would have accepted. After one year, he felt more confident, and ready again to enroll back to the formal school, thanks to the efforts of his trainers and those of the administration. I am so grateful and thankful to the NFS and to the sponsors of this program.”

Key achievements in 2018

Scholarship Program

  • Direct beneficiaries: 40 students

Scholarship program results

  • Student teacher ratio: 15:1 (The new strategy is to apply the specialization model: according to that one teacher teaches one subject for the three levels)
  • National student teacher ratio: 35-40:1
  • Retention rate: 90%
  • Pass rate: 95%
  • Percentage of those who passed with high marks (top 25% of ranking scale): 40%
  • Absentee rate of teachers: less than 5 days a year

Outcome of the year

  • 33 students benefitted from vocational training in Azrou Center

Outcomes since the inception of the program:

  • The project was launched in 2010 and has reached so far 328 students benefitting of scholarship program
  • 95 students have completed professional school since 2010
  • Infrastructures: one school built for the NFEP
Foundation Board Members
Pasquale Pistorio (President)
Piero Martinotti Board Member
Giacomo del Grande Treasurer and Board Member
Elena Pistorio Board member
Carmelo Pistorio Board Member
Lucia Coletti Director of Operations
Choon Ky Suppoort to the Director of Operations
Country Managers
Nalinthiya Navathitikul Thailand
Piero Martinotti Burkina Faso
Mohamed Lasry Morocco
Elena Pistorio Cambodia
Pro Bono Contributors
Mario Orlandi Graphic Designer – Website Publisher
Francesca Ferrari Project Photography/Filmmaker


Pistorio Foundation
Via Bice Cremagnani 15/7
20871Vimercate (Milano),Italy