FCA helps students in Cambodia to assure their future livelihoods

Students appreciate the new subject in Cambodian schools. FCA, together with the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport introduced career counselling and guidance in a country that needs its young to study and find their place in working life.

Vattey Oeur’s list of favourite subjects is impressive. ”I like mathematics, physics, history, khmer and career counselling,” she says.

The calm, slender 16 year-old, who is in her first year at high school, had always found it easy to follow mathematics lessons at school. Making a study plan and managing her time, skills that she learned at career guidance and counselling lessons, brought her mathematic abilities to an even better level – and the same has happened with other subjects, too.

“Before I only studied at school, but now I always revise at home, too. This has really improved my learning. I have learned how to set goals, make a study plan and I also know about different occupations for my future,” she says.

After learning career guidance and counselling in secondary school from grade seven onwards, Vattey decided to continue to high school.

“Career counselling has also made me know myself very well; what kind of a person I am and what I’m able to do. And it gave me knowledge on how to choose an occupation that fits my capacity.”

Vattey’s parents are farmers and vegetable sellers. But Vattey is planning for a career as mathematics teacher.

Her oldest brother had to migrate to Thailand to search for work and it is with the money he is sending home that the family has been able to fund its youngest member’s school materials and buy her a motorbike for the long way to school. There is no public transport here in the outskirts of Battambang city in western Cambodia.


  • In a poor country such as Cambodia, education isn’t often regarded as a good investment. Nearly half of children drop out of school before finishing 9th There is a huge need for skilled work force. It’s vital to get young people to study.
  • As a result of FCA work, career counselling and guidance is incorporated in the national curriculum.
  • The new subject is spreading. In third of Cambodian provinces there are secondary and high schools with career guidance and counselling. Teacher students in the new 4-year Teacher Education Colleges receive career guidance and counselling lessons. FCA will be developing an in-service training for teachers who want to become career counsellors.

“I was first very nervous”

Buntith Mak, Vattey’s career guidance and counselling teacher is one of the very first career counsellors in Cambodia. The former khmer language and literature teacher joined the first group of teachers who FCA trained with the help of Teachers Without Borders network.

They started working as career counsellors in 2016 in secondary and high schools in Battambang province. Some of them also trained as Master Trainers and have trained more career counsellors.

Mak is a Master Trainer and works here at Anlongvil Secondary School as career counsellor, the same school where he graduated from high school.

“I was first very nervous when I started as a career counsellor. It was a completely new subject in Cambodia and many were thinking it is not important, as students do not get a grade from it. But all of us here have seen a change in students. I have received good feedback. I’m now really proud of what I’m doing,” Mak says.

Modern, participatory teaching methods are central in career guidance and counselling.

“It’s is different from other subjects where the teachers just teach their subject,” Vattey says.

“In career counselling lessons we are even playing games – but in an educational way. When we have problems in learning, the games help. The tests we do during lessons or during face-to-face counselling make us understand ourselves better. And we know we can always go and talk with the career counsellor if we have problems at school. He helps us to solve them.”

Buntith Mak has also worked hard in developing cooperation between the school and the parents. Parents’ evenings have been a success and have given parents a better understanding on how to support their children’s education.

“My family has always supported my goal of getting a good education. I want my future work to improve my country,” Vattey says earnestly.

Text: Ulla Kärki
Photos: Ville Nykänen