The central element of the Smiling Gecko commitment in Cambodia is our school and the kindergarten, which opened in 2017 as the “SGC HISF Education Campus”. We started with around 140 children, and today we have almost 400 schoolchildren. Every year we will take in 50 more until we have reached the maximum size of the school with 1,000 children. With a financing requirement of more than 1.3 million francs p.a., the school is by far our largest cost item. But also the most important. Because without a proper education there is no way out of poverty in rural Cambodia.
Because the level of the local teachers is often insufficient, we employ English-speaking foreign teaching staff in addition to local teachers for each year level. Of course, this primarily teaches the children, but at the same time also takes care of the further training of the Cambodian teaching staff. A win-win situation.
The universally prevalent malnutrition is one of the greatest obstacles to the age-appropriate physical and mental development of our school children. We have therefore built a large campus kitchen where we serve all children a balanced meal in the morning and at lunchtime. For many of the children this is the only meal of the day.
Our children live in poor conditions. Very few families have running water, let alone proper sanitary facilities. With us, the children can shower every day and each receive a freshly laundered school uniform. We brush our teeth with them and also delousing and regular deworming are important parts of the hygiene program.
It happens again and again that children have accidents on the streets in the area or are injured at home. We can treat them in our infirmary and only have to call our partner organizations in worse cases. Thanks to the University of Zurich, we also have two dental chairs that are used for regular examinations and dental hygiene.
While there is hardly any school sport in the rest of Cambodia, we value sufficient exercise for our children. Running training and numerous ball sports are therefore part of the curriculum. Sport, which, by the way, is always done barefoot since the children don’t have any sports shoes.
Thanks to the generous support of more than 400 private music lovers and the Musikhaus Hug in Zurich, we are in the privileged position of being able to train our students on various musical instruments as of this year. An important building block in the intellectual and creative development of our great children.
OUR SCHOOL IN THE FILM
We have put together a short film with impressions from our school. Here you can see yourself.