FCA’s Career Counselling pilot radically decreases the number of school dropouts in Cambodia

8-graders are pondering different professions at Norea Secondary School, with career counsellor Kong Sokun. They are keenly observed by students whose school day has already ended. Photo: Sari Turunen

Finn Church Aid (FCA) has trained the first ever Career Counsellors for schools in Cambodia. As a result, career counselling is incorporated in the national curriculum and the project expands throughout the country.

Fifteen teachers and education staff were trained as the first ever career counsellors in Cambodia last year. They have since started working in schools in the Battambang region in the northwest of the country.

Their contribution means that 2,600 secondary school students (1,345 girls and 1,255 boys) at risk of dropping out of school have access to career counselling services in Cambodia.

This unique pilot initiative for career counselling was developed between FCA, Teachers without Borders Finland and the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

Previously, there was no career counselling in Cambodian schools. FCA responded to this significant gap in the Cambodian education sector with the added value of Finnish expertise.

The pilot fulfilled its objective when the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports incorporated career counselling in the national curriculum. The Ministry’s ambitious plan to train career counsellors for all Secondary and High Schools in the course of two years has been set to begin in October 2016 with the training of trainers.

The schools in which the first counsellors have worked, have reported a dramatic decrease in dropouts, says FCA’s technical adviser Sari Turunen, who has been involved in the training of the first counsellors and prepared a training manual.

“In Cambodia, schools don’t really have an idea what the students are studying for.  Career counselling has been found to be very meaningful”, Turunen says.

The Finnish trainers of the pilot project carried out many new things, which differ from the Cambodian culture. The group did exposure visits at companies and invited a bank manager to talk about the banking business. The trainees oriented themselves towards finding a linkage between education and working life.

“I’m very happy to know that the new career counsellors are now taking their students to similar exposure visits”, Turunen says.

Career counselling is a popular subject in the schools involved in the pilot, also due to the new, participatory teaching methods that the counsellors have adapted during their training. The work has led to important changes in the students’ attitudes towards the school, their studies and their future, as well as an increased cooperation between schools and parents.

FCA’s Right to Quality Education work builds on the knowhow of Finland’s highly trained teachers. FCA prioritises the support to Teacher Education, as teachers are the most important resource for improving learning.

More information:
Saara Lehmuskoski, Cambodia Country Manager, Finn Church Aid, Tel.+ 855 12 201 799, saara.lehmuskoski(at)kua.fi