Project: Educate a girl and you educate a family

My old Khmer language tutor, Mdm Soun Neang, has a generous heart. In her youth during Cambodia’s darkest years under the Khmer Rouge regime, she taught languages secretly to children, at great personal risk. Today, she supports girls in her hometown in rural Kampong Thom go to school, where the opportunity costs of educating a girl is too high for poor families (who send their sons instead). This is despite significant evidence that educating a girl has a powerful impact on the future of her family.


Mdm Neang has already brought several groups to graduation throughout her life. But she is getting tired, and suffers chronic and often debilitating illness these days. Still, she continues to tutor barangs in Phnom Penh (foreigners) to support the education of this latest batch – including the costs on their family eg lost income to them by sending her to school instead of work. With this latest group of five she has sought help from friends in the form of getting the word out for donations.

Here is their Facebook page, and their stories. It’s a way for those donating money to follow the girls through the years, and I’m imagining a pen pal exchange of letters as the students progress enough in their English acquisition. Below is a description of Mdm Soun Neang’s efforts.

“Proteep” (ប្រទីប) means light. In Cambodia, many girls are denied an education because families are too poor and choose to send their son to school instead. Yet when a girl goes to school, the cycle of poverty can be broken and the benefits can last for generations. As Mme. Soun Neang says, “I see the difference between my own life and my older sister who never went to school.”

Drawing her inspiration from her own story, in 2004, Mme. Suon Neang decided she wanted to make a difference and began to provide scholarships to girls from poor families who would not otherwise have gone to school or been able to complete their education. She selected four girls who were good students and had completed third grade. These girls have since completed their university education.

It’s inspiring to see efforts to improve the statistics on girls’ education worldwide, and we’re certainly involving the kids as they understand more. What other projects to change the world can families support together, and involve their young children?


  1. […] the education of girls. And possibilities for the next project include an effort called Proteep (ប្រទីប), meaning”light”, which was begun by our old Khmer tutor to […]

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