S.C.A.O. Education and Community Center (ECC)

Prey Ponror, Pnea Pon

Location and of the Education and Community Center (ECC)

The new school is in Prey Ponror, a village located 25km north west of the capital Phnom Penh. The hinterland of Prey Ponror consists of 16 smaller villages, which are all accessible by bike. The students travel from all over the surrounding villages to SCAO ECC and can often been seen cycling 30 or 40 mins to the SCAO ECC. The school consist of two class rooms, toilet/shower facilities and a teacher resource room. As the school has just been opened, the space is bright and airy with ceiling fans in each classroom. However the fresh walls are already being decorated by the wonderful art work the children offer to the teachers. The school is nestled in the countryside with local markets on its doorstep selling local produce. It is also located beside one of the most magnificent pagodas you are likely to see in Cambodia.

The Opening

SCAO ECC Opened its doors to the Prey Ponor Community on Saturday the 26th of November. We had over 300 young students attend the opening festivities. The ceremony included a blessing by the monks followed by encouraging speeches from the head of the village, the head of the school district and the Mr Smeith the CEO of SCAO. As the children were the most important invitees they each received a gift pack of copy books, pens, pencils, sweet treats and water as well as an upcoming schedule for the new school.


The First Few Weeks

School lessons started on Monday the 28th of November and already the school has exceeded all expectations in the first few weeks of opening. It currently facilitates and teaches over 140 students per day. To put this into context, the 3 local public schools have a total student population of around 1000. The students are aged from 4years old to 18 years old however they all have many things in common including a passion to learn, enthusiasm for the new school and lots and lots of positive spirit.

We are currently teaching five classes during the morning time from 10am until 1pm. The classes are mostly beginner level with one pre-intermediate class and we also have two Khmer teachers that help co teach the classes which really helps the teacher, the student and the volunteer get the best out of class time.

SCAO ECC Timetable


10am- 11am Preschool Class aged 3-5yrs
11.30am -12.15pm ABC Beginners aged 5-10yrs
12.15pm – 1pm ABC Beginners aged 10 – 14 yrs
12.15pm – 1pm Intermediate Class 14- 18 yrs

Exploration time

Teaching only occurs weekdays and only in the morning in SCAO ECC which means there’s a lot of time for exploring the area, starting your own projects and reading good books. The school has bikes which the volunteers can borrow to bike around the area, and the school also has a rooftop which offers unrivalled views of the Cambodian countryside. There are also small shops in the village where you can buy drinks, snacks and a few other things. The number of short term volunteers varies during the year so there could be anything from one to ten volunteers staying at the school. There is always at least one Head volunteer from the German Red Cross staying at the school who can always advise and help with any questions or quiries.

If you need to go to Phnom Penh or if you want to go there for the weekend, you can take a moto-remorque. This is how Cambodians typically travel between the countryside and Phnom Penh. It costs about 2000 riel and it takes about 1/1½ hours to get into the city. At the end of the weekend, you can take one back to the village as well. Have the long-term volunteers explain to you how to do it. It’s simple once you know how.
To sum up, if you stay in the village you’ll experience the authentic Cambodia where life is lived at a slower pace, where people are poor but always ready with a smile for you.

Volunteer Opportunities at SCAO ECC.

As SCAO ECC is challenging itself not only to teach English but to expand its reach to IT classes and to explore community development projects. It working to become an educational community centre for the area which means there is a lot of scope for any volunteer to come up with a project and set it up. For example, a youth club, a football team, dance classes, music classes. SCAO 3 offers a real opportunity to develop community resources and activities that match volunteer’s experiences, talents or interests.

Being a new school SCAO3 is in need of volunteers to join our progressive volunteer team, if you have any other questions please feel free to email and ask.