The Toul Ampil Language College (TALC) was founded by me who financed my university studies by driving a motor taxi. The idea to start the college came to me after taking a foreign tourist to the Killing Fields. Beggar children surrounded my passenger, harassing him for money. I realized that I did not want children like these to grow up to be beggars. They are very poor and need some way to get money. I thought maybe if I could teach them to speak English they could get a better job. This was the year 2000, and I was 19 years of age and still at university.
I gained permission from the Phnom Penh Department of Education to use some classrooms at the local school. I had a meeting with the local school principal, and arranged to rent the building, for a fee of $20 per month, to open a night school for local residents. Children attend classes, two and a half hours per day, six days per week. I would have liked to have made the school free, but I had to charge a small fee, in order to cover expenses.
Most children pay a modest tuition of 5,000 Riels ($1.25 USD) per month. But, if the children cannot afford to pay, scholarships are liberally awarded. If the children tell me they can't pay, I will go and visit their home. I observe how they are living, and look into their family’s finances. Sometimes I find a family with nine children and only an income of $20 - $40 per month. In that case, the children can study for free. I also offer similar scholarships to provide needy children with textbooks, pencils, and paper, all of which are unattainable for many poor Khmers. I was too young to get legal consent to use the classrooms when I started, and I asked my brother-in-law Un Theang to become my Director while I was underage. Eventually, I moved the school from local classrooms to classrooms that I had built on my parents’ property. I had been using school facilities at Toul Ampil Secondary School from 2001 - 5th Jan 2008, but then a new Vice Principle from Phnom Penh joined the school and made many changes that hindered by ability to run the school there. First, he asked me to move from my old office, which I had put much effort and money into renovating nicely, and second, he also wanted me to pay 100Usd every month to use the school’s classroom facilities. For these two reasons, I had to decide to stop working with them. Until May 5th, 2008 I re-opened the new center in the new location at my parents' property. It took around 4 months to completely build the new school.”
My idea has been a great success. I developed clear teaching plans for the teacher’s who assist me, and I continue to work as a tour guide in order to meet the financial commitment of the new buildings and other expenses. My sister and her husband have a building materials business and helped me with materials for the buildings however I still had to take on a debt 2009. Later on I could pay off my debt due to the kind financial donation of Mr. Michael Haene and Mr. Christoph Haene. The school continues to grow, and more classrooms were needed. I wish to explain how I coped with the increased demand for English lessons. I have just opened another school called the '' International Language Center '' it is located in Dangkor Primary School it is around 15 minutes walk from my parents' house. I have decided to use the state school facilities again because this time I got 5 year contract with the principle. More students are coming to study at the school and there is not enough room at the old school. The 5 year contract might be enough time to find the way to build more rooms at the old school with 2-3 storages. I believe my initiative for developing English skills for many people who would otherwise not have this education will have far reaching effects for them obtaining employment and will also contribute to the growth of this very poor country. Yours sincerely Kakada Chhim Director and Founder of TALC
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