Samart School is the realization of one local man’s dream to help the poor families of his village to find a way out of their poverty. The idea was born in 2008 when Mr. Song Samart, who was a Buddhist monk at the time, visited his own village to collect alms. He observed the hardship that families were facing and he wanted to help change the situation for the future generations. He wanted children to grow up with endless possibilities in an otherwise hopeless situation. Song has a strong belief that every child has the right to an education, regardless of their background and so he set out to develop a school that was available for all.
In December 2011, after three years of saving his own money and with the help of both his Monk friends and local villagers, Song opened ‘Chhan School’ in Spean Kaek village. The school was named after Song’s best friend Chhan, who provided instrumental support during the early development phase and it was also Chhan’s family who provided the land and materials for the first building. Song began as the only teacher, with three English classes running in the same hour and as the word quickly spread about the opportunity to learn for free, children who were eager to learn continued to come.
In 2013, Samart School kickstarted its life skills education by partnering with the Cambodia and Taiwanese Education Program (CTEP), to begin running computer classes. Since that time, CTEP has generously funded the computer teacher’s salary, offered staff training and provided the school with computers on a loan basis.
In January 2014, after receiving a small inheritance from the sale of his family-owned land, Song opened a second school campus in the neighboring village of Kok Srok, his own. In doing so, he has been able to help his own family and underprivileged community receive free English education. It was around this same time that a generous Australian man connected with the school and offered to pay for the land at Spean Kaek, which lifted the burden of having to pay a monthly rent to the original owners.
Also in 2014, Song applied for and was granted official status as a Non-governmental Organization (NGO). It was then that the school was renamed ‘Samart School’, simply because another school was already registered under the name ‘Chhan’. Despite a lengthy process of registration, it has been an important step toward strengthening the school’s legitimacy as an organization, both locally and internationally.
Since the first Samart School campus opened in 2011, classes have grown from 3 to 22 at the two locations and the local Khmer team from 1 to now 6 staff. In that time, over 100 enthusiastic volunteers, donors and supporters from around the world have dedicated their time, money and resources to help Song develop the school. Some have undertaken fundraising campaigns; some have given their time and energy to teach, to design, to build, to write and to help in all kinds of other ways. Samart School would not be where it is today, without the incredible, kind-hearted people who have contributed.
As a grassroots, self-funded organization, we need the support and generosity of people to continue growing and helping the local community. Please consider donating (from near or afar), volunteering with us , or spreading the word about our cause with your family and friends through social media.