Chhourn Bun Hoeun (Philip) is one of the directors of the Pleroma School Board and a devoted Christian. He is the director of HRDI (Human Resource and Development Institute) in Phnom Penh. Philip received his Master of Education at the Royal University, Phnom Penh in 2010 and Doctor of Education at Assumption University, Thailand in 2019.
Good morning brothers and sisters!
On behalf of the school board of directors, I would like to give much appreciation for your presence in this ground-breaking ceremony for the Secondary Pleroma School for Girls (PSG). Thanks to God for answering our prayers and thank you very much to all of you, both missionary and local people, for taking part in praying to make this wonderful project happen. I would also like to give much appreciation for all of the PSG staff who have contributed greatly to the development of the PSG high school level.
Pleroma School for Girls has been established in order to contribute to the long-term development of the human resources in Cambodia. We learn that education can be the mechanism used to help girls live their lives violence-free and through it, girls can become better mothers to raise better children, and lead their families more effectively. The following rationales passionately contribute to the establishment of the PSG in Cambodia.
We would like to see girls receive equal rights to quality and holistic education that they would better contribute to the development of the country of Cambodia and lead their lives more abundantly as promised by our Lord Jesus. According to the report issued by the Parliamentary Institute of Cambodia (2019), the school enrollment rate for both boys and girls has increased from 2011 to 2016 but there was a big inequality between boys and girls in school, especially in master and doctoral programs. Moreover, the dropout rate for all grades between 2007 and 2017 decreased but in high school, the dropout rate fluctuated. In the academic year 2007-2008, the dropout rate was 13.1% and decreased to 9.8% in 2011-2012 but increased to 24.4% in 2013-2014 and continued to decrease to 17% in 2016-2017. The statistics showed challenges for girls in pursuing their education. Moreover, a high dropout rate of females at the upper secondary school level put Cambodia at risk of having more women with lower education than other countries in ASEAN (Kem, et al., 2019).
The report states clearly the factors hindering gender equality in education in Cambodia:
• Social and gender norms: Cambodian women are still constrained by social and gender norms to continue their study at a higher level. This may be because of their parents’ lower level of education and their lack of the awareness of long-term benefits of education for their children.
• Poverty: Poor families could not send their children to school. Some families had to migrate from place to place and to other countries to earn their living that left their children with limited access to education.
• Parent and community engagement in children’s education are still limited: Parents’ involvement in education is very important, but their engagement in children’s education is still limited. The engagement does not mean to have them present physically but their belief system that values the importance of education for their children.
• Violence on Women A report released by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in 2016 stated that more than 30% of Cambodian women have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence from their intimate partners. Intimate partner violence continues to be a significant public health problem for women in Cambodia. The report recommended that to reduce violence, it is necessary to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. This report and the report of a research on Women’s Health and Life Experiences (2015) conformed to the international evidence that where a woman has more resources available, she is less likely to have experienced violence. It is recommended that empowerment opportunities are needed for women including ensuring adequate education, and access to income generating employment and contraception.
God’s Love for Girls
PSG is a Christian school which was established by missionaries from America and Hong Kong. They have received God’s grace, love, and blessings and want to share them with girls in Cambodia, particularly in the field of education. We want to empower girls through quality and holistic education that they would have an abundant life, which includes the eternal life God has promised to give to the girls. John 10:10 (b) states that “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” We would like our girls to know Jesus and expect them to receive Him so that they would have an abundant life.
These above-mentioned rationales moved our missionary people, including the local staff, to establish Pleroma School for Girls in Cambodia. We believe that our contribution to the long-term development for girls through quality and holistic education empower girls (women) with more resources that can be used to lead their lives wisely, healthily, and abundantly.
Today, this groundbreaking ceremony indicates that the construction of the PSG high school has already started. We need your continuous and persistent prayers for the construction to go smoothly and safely. Pray that everyone is sharing each part for the project to be completely done as planned.
Once again, thank you very much for your time and presence in this wonderful event this morning. May God bless you all with health, strength, and safety! Thank you