ABOUT MR. SAMART
The story of Samart School is the story of Song Samart, a former Buddhist monk. The school is his creation which he is highly dedicated to.
(Samart is pronounced “some-ot”, the “r” is silent.)
Our Gallery page has two good videos where you can meet Mr. Samart.
While he was a monk, Mr. Samart could easily see that the children in his home town could benefit from better schooling. After saving what money he could he created “Chhan School” in 2011, teaching English to students of any age for free. Three years later he obtained his official NGO status. The school name was changed to “Samart School” since the name Chhan had already been taken. (An NGO is a non-governmental organization, not connected to a government or religion.)
He has financed the school with donations and income from a small farm he had inherited, even selling off a portion of his land to raise more funds. His teachers have been primarily high school students whom he managed to pay small salaries. Because they are students themselves he has had to hold classes in the evenings.
Mr. Samart is no longer a monk and now has a wife and young daughter. His commitment to the school is as strong as ever. He hopes that someday he can have professional teachers which will allow him to hold classes during the day and teach more subjects. Because of his work to help those around him, he is highly regarded in his community.
ABOUT PUBLIC EDUCATION IN CAMBODIA
In their attempt to create a utopian agrarian society in the late 1970’s, the Khmer Rouge communists all but destroyed organized education in Cambodia. Its re-establishment was slow and still lacks in quality. Mr. Samart was the only one in his family to receive any education due to his parents sending him to live with the monks when he was a teenager.
Today, if students go to school at all they attend for only a three-hour session, either in the morning or afternoon. To get better schooling, they must pay teachers a small gratuity. Cheating, bribery, and lax standards have been rampant. In 2013 almost 90% of students taking the grade 12 exams passed. In 2014 officials made a serious effort to combat cheating and less than 30% passed. Progress is being made, but there will be a need for better schooling for years to come.
Click Here For The School Location on Google Maps
ABOUT ANGKOR WAT
The temples of Angkor Wat comprise one of the top tourist attractions in the world. Building began in the 12th century and resulted in what are probably the largest religious monuments ever constructed. The city of Siem Reap sits just outside the temple area, and Samart School is only 20 minutes from Siem Reap. If you were considering a visit to Angkor Wat and you are interested in the school, the Angelsong Hotel is at the second classroom site. For part of your visit you might enjoy a country setting. A portion of the hotel’s proceeds go to support the school.