To stay competitive in both local and regional labour markets, one requires more than just formal education, according to Boromey Sreang, the co-founder of educational Facebook page WEduShare.
This belief has driven him and his two co-founders to start spreading information, ranging from internship opportunities to study abroad programmes, through Facebook.
Given the ease of disseminating information on a large-scale quickly, Facebook pages with a focus on education and sharing educational opportunities are increasing in popularity in the Kingdom.
WEduShare, one such page, has amassed more than 80,000 likes and followers since its launch in May 2016.
“Without social media, specifically Facebook, we would probably need to spend a lot of resources and time to grow this fast. Technology has taken out so many barriers, allowing everyone to gain access to information and equal opportunities,” Sreang said.
Student Phallymanita Rin, who checks educational Facebook pages about three times a week, shared: “As a Cambodian high school student, I find it hard accessing opportunities without [education-related] online platforms. On top of that, [the online platforms] are convenient and fast because I don’t have to ride my motorbike from one place to another in order to search for opportunities.”
This new education platform is being propelled by Cambodia’s insatiable appetite for using the Internet, especially social media.
In a 2016 study on mobile phones and Internet use in Cambodia published by The Asia Foundation, it was found that 30 percent of Cambodians accessed information through the Internet and/or Facebook, making it the dominant channel for information.
Young Cambodians’ increasing use of social media has assisted education-centred Facebook page Ahladang, which provides scholarship information and informal education to over 120,000 followers.
“We were prompted to start Ahladang in late 2015 because we wanted to provide scholarship [information] and English lessons to students through distance coaching. Facebook allows us to send information to students quickly,” Ahladang co-founder Virakdara Sor said.
Ahladang user VivPov Last said the Facebook page is useful in supplementing his learning from textbooks.
“[Checking] Ahladang is part of me [using] Facebook. I think this page is good in telling me how to use grammar, [sentence] structures and vocabularies, but my books are also very important,” Last said.
Increasing accessibility of scholarship information
Posts on both local and international scholarships are the most popular on the WEduShare Facebook page, according to Sreang.
“Currently, we are working with some institutions and universities abroad to bring scholarships directly to Cambodian students and make students all over the country in both rural and urban areas aware of the opportunities.”
WEduShare user Kithya Ouch said that educational Facebook pages are important because they make information more accessible.
Apart from WEduShare, Ouch listed YDP Cambodia and Scholarship for Cambodia as other Facebook pages he checks.
Ouch said: “Scholarship and educational information can be accessed easily with just a few clicks. Thus, this allows more people to pick up the opportunities.”
A recipient of the Chevening scholarship, Ouch also added that Facebook was a way of bringing like-minded people together, as in the case of a WEduShare mentorship program that connected interested applicants to a previous awardee of the scholarship.
The Chevening scholarship is awarded to outstanding students in Cambodia, allowing them to pursue a one-year master’s programme at any university in the United Kingdom.
“I had known and prepared for [the Chevening scholarship] before the establishment of the WEduShare Facebook page. However, a year ago, the page introduced a mentorship program. Despite our tight schedule, we [the five mentees] had productive sessions [with our mentors], and it allowed more than half of us to be shortlisted for the scholarship,” Ouch said.
On ways social media can be further harnessed for education, Sreang said: “I have a very strong belief in live video. With fast Internet speed and penetration in Cambodia, live videos can be a key solution to teacher shortages and difficulties having access to schools. [Live videos] can give every child in Cambodia access to quality education.”