Cambodia Back to School Project

Cambodian Child Works

Following more than two decades of solid economic growth, Cambodia has reached the lower middle-income status as of 2015, with gross national income (GNI) per capita reaching US$1,070. Driven by garment and tourism exports, Cambodia has continued an average growth rate of 7.6 % in 1994-2015, ranking sixth in the world. According to preliminary estimates, economic growth slightly eased to 6.9 % in 2016, compared to 7% in 2015.

Despite the strong economic growth, and the efforts done along the years to reduce poverty, many challenging socioeconomic issues still remain. The vast majority of families who escaped from poverty were only able to do so by a small margin and around 4.5 million people are still living in precarious conditions brushing the line of extreme poverty. Universal health and education also continue to constitute significant challenges and development priorities for the country. 33% of children under five are stunted due to health issues and malnutrition. While net enrollment in primary education increased from 82% in 1997 to 97 % in 2016, at lower secondary level, completion rates at 43 % in 2013 are significantly below the average for lower middle-income countries.

In this context the Pistorio Foundation supports 25 children at the “Catch up School” of Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE). The children receive accelerated teaching in the national curriculum at this school, located in the PSE premises in Stung Mean Chey, in proximity of the recently closed dump around which many families used to live and on which adults and children used to work.  The school covers Primary to High School education with a strong emphasis on Khmer, mathematics, physics and foreign languages (English and French). Sports are also practiced on a weekly basis as well as teaching of traditional theatre and dance, and courses on Human Rights and Rights of Children, and on prevention of sexually transmittable diseases such as HIV. Children on scholarship also receive medical assistance, nutritional support, and education on hygiene practices at the PSE center.  The Foundation supports their education until the completion of their high school diploma and professional school degree at one of the 11 professional school training programs available at PSE.

The sponsorship covers the provision of uniforms


Cambodia Home

The sponsorship covers the provision of uniforms, school supplies, two meals and one snack per day, and basic health care to children, teachers’ and social workers’ salaries, and a compensation in rice to their families for the loss of income as the child is no longer working.  Social workers ensure that the families do not make the child work after school hours into the night, which would negatively impact the child’s performance in school. Children arrive at the center at 6.30 am where they can shower and have breakfast.
At the center they have a lunch meal and a snack during school breaks.  Following their afternoon tutoring, they will return to their homes in the evening.


Our programs and results are as follows:
Scholarship Program25 children were supported along the year;
Outcome since the inception of the program –  90 students have completed professional school since the inception of the program in 2009; over 180 students have received long-term scholarship support from Pistorio Foundation.