For some years now we have been making it possible for particularly talented young people to study at a university in Phnom Penh. We do this within the framework of a scholarship programme which, in addition to paying the tuition fees, includes accommodation in one of our dormitories and counselling by our staff during and in preparation for their studies.
It is often very difficult for our students to choose a subject. Since they all come from very poor families, students often don’t know what choices they have or what studying a particular subject actually means. For this reason, we organise events where high school students meet students who currently hold one of our scholarships so they can explain what they are studying, what the advantages and disadvantages of this course of study are and what extracurricular challenges the future scholarship holders may face during their studies.
Most scholarship holders live in one of our three dormitories in Phnom Penh. We run them together with the German NGO Chibodia e.V. In total we have space for up to 80 students. Although their hometowns are situated only about 40 km away from Phnom Penh, many students come to the city for the first time when they start to study. Living together in a dormitory with former and current friends from their hometown, therefore, makes their entry into student life a lot easier.
In order to receive a scholarship, applicants must graduate from high school, take an English test designed by our staff and prove that they would otherwise have difficulties to finance their studies. Unlike the test results, the last point is more complex to determine. As many of the applicants are already part of our projects in the region this does make it easier for us to assess neediness.
Nevertheless, we want to give every applicant a fair chance to explain why they should receive a scholarship. Several questions of the application form, which all candidates have to fill out in advance, are aimed at the individual situation and motivation of the candidate. We explain the content of this form weeks before the high school exams and give the candidates time to prepare their answers. If it turns out that applicants withhold information from us or knowingly misrepresent their situation, they will be excluded from our scholarship programme. In order to crosscheck the candidates’ answers in detail, we talk to their teachers and visit their families at home before the scholarships are awarded.
At the beginning of September, we will learn who has passed their school exams. Those who have passed will then take the English test at our school. This is necessary because the majority of the courses in Cambodia use English materials and this ensures that scholarship holders can communicate with their sponsors and our staff. The day of the English test will be the deadline for submitting sponsorship application forms[i]. After that, our visits and interviews with the candidates’ families begin.
The final list of the sponsorship candidates will be sent out in a special newsletter at the end of September/beginning of October. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
[i] We don’t let the candidates take the forms home because we don’t want anyone else to fill them in on their behalf. The forms will be explained at the first meeting in July. In the weeks that follow, the candidates will be given the opportunity to view and complete the forms several times.