Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest nations, struggles with low gender equality, ranking 92nd out of 146 countries in 2023 (according to The Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum).


Although education is accessible, its quality often lags behind. However, the Cambodia Academy, established in 2004 with support from various quarters (including several NGOs), shines brightly. Personally visited twice by a member SI Oulu, the Academy offers a markedly superior educational standard compared to local schools and holds legal recognition within Cambodia’s educational system. Beyond core subjects, it imparts crucial additional skills like IT, English, and art, vital for employment and empowerment. Catering exclusively to students from impoverished backgrounds, the academy provides meals, transportation (if required), and health check-ups, with family members pitching in for meal preparation.



Furthermore, an educated girl is better equipped to confront gender-based violence and contribute to its eradication in society. Education also serves as a vital deterrent against human trafficking, a significant threat to Cambodian girls and women, rooted in deep-seated gender stereotypes and economic disparities, exacerbated by the nation’s tumultuous history. Within the Club strategy, a major focus lies on empowering women and girls through education, aiming for international engagement and cross-cultural exchange.


The project implementation involved several key stages:

  • Strengthening SI Oulu’s international commitment.
  • Exploring various options to identify suitable targets aligning with the Club’s objectives.
  • Conducting a presentation introducing the Cambodia Academy to SI Oulu members, along with an overview of prevailing conditions in Cambodia.
  • Selecting the Cambodia Academy as the beneficiary following an assessment.
  • Establishing direct contact with the Academy to understand the specific needs of a girl under her grandmother’s care.
  • Deciding to support this girl annually, covering her educational expenses and other necessities.
  • Facilitating ongoing communication by connecting a local girl from Oulu with the Cambodian girl.
  • Disseminating progress updates through regular newsletters to SI Oulu Club members.
  • Reviewing project outcomes and efficacy during Club meetings, culminating in a summarization and evaluation of the initiative’s first year in late 2023.

Overall, the project has yielded positive results, with SI Oulu planning to support the girl for eight more years to ensure she completes nine years of basic education!



Bintou Koïta,

Senior Programme Officer (SIE HQ)