Shift 360 Foundation is currently undertaking a feasibility study on behalf of Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport into the potential benefits and practical factors around beginning a job-skills creation program for high school children in Grades 10 – 12. The study is funded by Dubai Cares Foundation, Dubai UAE.

The study will identify a small number of high schools in Cambodia to participate in a trial roll-out of the program during the 2021/ 22 school year. The study is led by Thierry Noyelle for Shift 360 and involves two consultants – Martalia Lo and Trevor Sworn. Martalia is one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Academy of Careers and Technology in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a high school combining academic and technical learning for Grades 10-12. Trevor is a Phnom Penh-based consultant with over 20 years of experience in SE Asia focusing on education, skills and employment.

Regarding the reasons for creating this new pilot program, Martalia suggests that traditional high school education in most countries does not always prepare students for the jobs market as there is often a miss-match between the education and skills that students graduate with, and what employers actually need. She says “we need to move away from the traditional approaches and bring innovative models to solve and possibly change the way we do education. I am happy to be a part of the Shift 360 feasibility study, because we are trying to create a school model which is not only relevant to education today, but also addressing and bringing solutions to these skills and educations gaps/ miss-matches.”

She also highlights that due to the rapid pace of change in Cambodian society and economy, and also globally in technology, that some risk being left behind. “Whatever children experience in the first 12-15 years of their life will greatly affect the following 50-60+ years of their journey, so if they miss properly developing their talents, skills and knowledge early on, this will impact them for the rest of their lives.”

Some of her ideas for success in high-school age education include:

  1. Innovative teacher training and school programs that foster soft skills development and digital skills
  2. Curriculum development that is directly related with the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  3. Schools to include digital, entrepreneurship and 21st century skills learning outcomes as part of their goals
  4. Providing equal, safe and accessible learning to all children
  5. Focusing on lifelong learning as a value in education rather than just passing or failing subjects/ grades/ exams

The Shift360 Foundation/ Dubai Cares project aims to bring together governmental, private, public and non-governmental agencies to create more pathways and educational innovations.

The feasibility study to date has identified a model for a cutting-edge school program which would bring innovation in learning experiences and teacher training as well as curriculum development. This would involve introduction of a new range of skills and technology for students, teachers and school administrators that are not currently part of the standard school curriculum or teacher training.

The program being created has great potential to bring Cambodia’s education landscape to the next level of development in the ASEAN region as it will directly address some of the major issues in the education sector.

It aims to develop a high-quality skill level in students and teachers that will enable students to have relevant skills for the job market, rather than graduating high school with low/ no specific job-related skills. The program will greatly help to increase employability in quality roles and therefore also increase the quality of life and future prospects for students, and also for teachers.

The results of the feasibility study will be presented to the Minister of Education, His Excellency Hangchuon Naron in late September 2021, and also to Dubai Cares.

More information regarding roll-out dates, hoped-for impact, the proposed curriculum and the pilot high school location/s, chosen in partnership with the Government of Cambodia, will follow.

About Shift360 Foundation: Shift360 works alongside and in partnership with leaders of the private sector, government, and civil society to improve the state of youth and women in Southeast Asia. The foundation’s initiatives have a core focus on generating gainful employment, developing human capital with high quality skills training and influencing decision makers to pursue the common good.

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About Dubai Cares: Dubai Cares is playing a key role in helping achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning by 2030, by supporting programs designed to reduce, if not remove, the greatest obstacles that prevent children and young people in developing countries from attaining quality education.

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