iLEAD International School is a social enterprise that provides education to children in kindergarten and primary school, with both national and international curricula. The school offer more than 40 community kindergartens free of charge in seven provinces - Kandal, Kep, Takeo, Kampot, Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong and Prey Veng.
The school was founded in 2015 and is sponsored by the Action Education Organisation. The creation of the free provincial kindergartens was initiated by the organisation and implemented by iLEAD International School.
“We established an education social enterprise with three entities – iLEAD International School which earns an income, the iLEAD community centre and the iLEAD training centre, which trains teachers,” Un Siren, school coordinator told The Post.
In partnership with Learning Alliance, the school has contributed to building and renovating 41 community kindergartens. 45 classrooms were renovated throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, while 6,500 Cambodian children receive materials and 1,750 children receive scholarships to support their studies.
Siren said the school provides students with a safe, happy learning environment. The school has native speaking English teachers with many years of experience, who understand the social context of Cambodia and follow a child centred methodology. The school accepts students from the age of two, and has plans to establish till high school.
“We have built an urban-rural solidarity network with our urban tuition income supporting children in rural areas. We provide community teachers with allowance, improve their teaching skills, and provide learning materials for both community and public school teachers of grades 1 and 2,” he added.
Income iLead has is also used to provide food to 200 children every day, and 165 hand washing stations were also constructed.
“In addition to being a non-profit social enterprise, we communicate and work with the community, trains teachers, provide undergraduate students opportunities to access employment, and have native English speakers with long-term experience,” Siren said.
“We have fewer than 15 students per class so we are able to offer special attention to each one. We are also members of the Learning Alliance, which focuses on early childhood education and international accreditation,” he added.
In late July, the school held a graduation ceremony for its students and donated school supplies to the Rabbit school, which specialises in educating children with special needs or disabilities. Additional teaching materials were also handed to community Kindergarten teachers.
Khun Rachana, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, said iLEAD does not make any profit – it uses all of its income on projects that support vulnerable children and young people in rural communities.
“This initiative connects children studying in rural areas to those in the city, teaching them to support and live with each other harmoniously,” she added.
Vorn Samphors, Action Education country director said the school delivers lessons which are full of motivation, participation and fun, building a great world for children to grow and prosper.
“We cultivate life skills – and professional skills – so they are well prepared for higher studies. We educate them to live harmoniously, independently, responsibly, and with dignity,” he added.
Sreu Kieu, a community teacher in Kandal province, teaches kindergarten students from 3-5 years old. She shared her experience, adding that she has taught at iLead since 2016.
Various NGOs had alerted her to how she could help her community, which she said was plagued by alcohol abuse and violence. She decided to help teach children – without charging tuition.
“Later, the director of iLEAD offered her training and study materials. I love teaching these children. As a teacher at this school, my livelihood is better than it was and I am honoured to regularly receive praise and support from the parents of students,” she added.
Suong Sokha has a 6-year-old daughter who has just graduated from the school in Kandal province. Sokha described how the school had taught her daughter.
“When I visited the school, I could see how confident she was in class. She was respectful and obedient to the teacher, who was being very attentive to the students. The teacher was also very good at holding the students attention and keeping them focussed on the class, so they were really concentrating, and learning a lot. I thank the organisation and its teachers for working so hard to teach my daughter – and all for free,” she said.
Siren encouraged parents to enrol their children at the school.
“Dear parents, please help to support our social enterprises by enrolling your children at iLEAD International School, as it will help communities in remote areas. The school is constantly working to provide professional development to our staff, so their methodology is always up to date, and will meet the modern day needs of your children. We thank you in advance for your faith and trust in our school,” he said.