2022_03 National Reading Day at ULC 2

If you follow our social media, you’ll have seen teasers of an exciting new project that we can finally now reveal.

Drum roll for … the Ponheary Ly Foundation Urban Learning Center!

For the past few months, we have been quietly toiling away to get Fort PLF (as it’s also known) re-wired, furnished, spruced up, kitted out and stocked up with all manner of learning resources and equipment to support our urban students. The Urban Learning Center (ULC) will also become our new HQ later in the year, as we migrate and integrate our staff offices under the same roof, making this a one-stop-shop for all things PLF in Siem Reap city.

 

2022_02 ULC researc room set up
ULC sign
2022_02 ULC set up - keys

This momentous venture finally brings to our urban students what our rural students have had access to for some years through our learning centers at Knar and Srayang. But additionally, the IT resources we have mounted at ULC represent our biggest tech lift EVER. 

All in all, ULC comprises:

    • an IT lab with 14 computers and classes available 7 days per week
    • on-site Internet Café for student use with 4 terminals
    • student research rooms with study guides, computers & printer access
    • a lending library with currently over 2500 titles … and more to come
    • a large workshop and outdoor space for all the many events, meetings and presentations our staff and students regularly hold
    • three offices for our team
2022_02 ULC set up - internet cafe
2022_02 uni meeting at ULC
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The need for such a center speaks to the big shift we’ve seen in recent years as to the ever-increasing population of urban poor students in Siem Reap. This can in part be attributed to the effects of Covid on families who were previously living just above the poverty line. With tourism grinding to a complete halt for two years, many families have experienced drastic loss of income, and sending their kids to school becomes almost impossible. 

We’re also getting increasing numbers of high school walk-ins. Most of them are Grade 10 or 11 students who come from more remote areas seeking better schools. Many of them are trying to do that on their own, separated from family or any support network in the city. A lot of them are already on our urban food bank. 

It’s been such a tough, dark couple of years for all Cambodians, and while our original mission began in the rural provinces, we recognise that these urban students experience hardships that create the same barriers to inclusion in education. Whether being transplanted in their quest for decent schools, or prey to devastation of the economy, we want to bring them into the fold – while looking upon our ability to do so as mission expansion. The determination they show in pursuing an education tells us that they deserve every ounce of support we can provide, and will go on to make the most of the opportunities provided. 

PLF students at ULC enrolment 2022

We also hope that ULC’s library will be open to outside students in the future, depending on availability of scale-up funds. But for now, our PLF students and staff have already put the center to good use, and tested out capacity for all the different spaces.

2022 University Scholarship ceremony 1
2022_02 uni meeting at ULC 7
2022_02 uni award ceremony at ULC 2
2022_02 uni award ceremony at ULC 2

University Scholarship ceremony & student meetings, February 2022 

And to mark this exciting new venture, we held a soft opening with a fun and energising event celebrating National Reading Day on March 11th. The Librarian issued 65 Library cards on this day alone!

ULC is GO!

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2022_03 National Reading Day at ULC 11

Like the sound of our programs and want to get involved, but not sure how? 

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For as little as $10 a month, you could contribute to the ongoing education of our students. $120 goes a long way in Cambodia: that’s 5 village children on the road to education, with access to school and clean drinking water for half a year. Or a million other things, all of which coalesce into the tools needed for life to change for the better!

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