Sena Chang Writes on Quality Education in Cambodia

Sena Chang (grade 5) shares her essay on the ASIJ School in Cambodia—a school that from 2009-2012 ASIJ students raised $19,000 to help build. In April, as part of a social studies unit on global responsibility, Sena became interested in the UN global goal of quality education. The goal of the essays assigned in the social studies unit was for students to draw on what they learned about how people make a difference and come up with some ways they might help raise awareness  and mobilize people to act.

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ASIJ Students visit “The ASIJ School” in February 2012.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Nelson Mandela once said. Admit it; we all have gone to school dreading a test, or that philosophy class you had to retake seven times. The next time you think that, plant the thought that some children have to build bricks, pick sugar cane and make rubber for hours and hours just to get the same opportunity.

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This is exactly what the children of Cambodia are facing. Even though their family has enough money, they don’t get to attend school because there are way too many children for the schools they have. This occurs because of the limited number of qualified teachers. According to the Foundation for International Development Relief, 45.5% of children drop out of primary education. That’s almost half of the children lacking full education!


Located outside the village of Siem Reap, Cambodia, the ASIJ School in Cambodia has wonderful facilities such as a library, playground and a computer. It has five rooms, each classroom compartmentalized by subject. Even if it is a government school with a low enrollment fee, some students have trouble affording essential supplies such as pencils and textbooks.

The Global Issues Network (GIN) was formed at ASIJ in 2008, with hopes of improving issues around the environment, human trafficking and deforestation. They focused on education, with the goal of funding a school in Cambodia. GIN’s goal was achieved; by working through the American Assistance for Cambodia, the ASIJ School in Cambodia was built in 2012. Countless fundraising efforts, such as Winterfest, Spirit Day and book drives run by the students in the The Global Issues Network, helped build The ASIJ School. The club, inspired by former headmaster Tim Carr, was the main source of funding for the ASIJ School.

Throughout GIN members’ two past visits to the ASIJ School, students took and distributed packets of school supplies to pupils. They also took sports equipment, bought generously with their own money. However, the original club members have graduated and left ASIJ, leaving behind the dilemma of how to meet the yearly donation of $2,750.

Money is still needed to buy The ASIJ School in Cambodia’s sport equipment, books, school supplies, the salary of an English teacher, students’ lunches and to pay for the internet connection. The school needs $2,000-$3,000 yearly, and currently the club’s coffers are empty. How will ASIJ meet its obligations to its namesake school in Cambodia?

Through her research, which included online sources through the UN Global Goals site as well as an interview with Rick Weinland (High School principal), Sena addressed the UN goal of quality education. She not only addressed the goal of the essay, considering ways by which she could help raise awareness and mobilize people to act, but also, as a result of her work, the Elementary School Student Council has pledged money towards funding the school for this year. Conversations have also begun, exploring ways develop a more sustainable funding model that includes a larger portion of the school. We all share a commitment to seeing the continued success of the ASIJ School in Cambodia for years to come!