As part of their education Liger Leadership Academy, our students have authored books, starred in videos, written (and were awarded) international grants, planned summits and more. Many of our student projects or experiences had a lasting impact on Cambodia. Some of these successes are listed below.
Liger Marine Research Team
The Liger Marine Research Team (LMRT) comprises eight of our senior students and is a three-year project undertaken in conjunction with Marine Conservation Cambodia on Koh Seh island off the southern coast of Cambodia. Research includes underwater surveys of ecosystems within Cambodia’s first marine protected area, the development and deployment of artificial reef structures, and protection of the area from illegal and unsustainable fishing methods.
In preparation for the project, LMRT team members became scuba certified – with the youngest members only 13 years old at the time, we believe them to be the youngest Cambodian scuba divers in the world.
The Solar Pi project is a multi-year student exploration and collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) to develop low power consumption, solar-powered computer labs for government schools in Cambodia. A major focus of the exploration is the development and promotion of a STEM curriculum, with Liger students creating educational materials, training programs, and providing existing software through a partnership with established education company Edemy.
Two proof-of-concept computer labs have been established – one in outer Phnom Penh, and one in rural Takeo Province – with the latter being opened by officials from MoEYS. Liger students have deployed the computers and delivered teacher training programs at these schools, and the labs are now operational.
Journeys of Change
Journeys of Change is a Phnom Penh-based bike tour business. The tour focuses on explaining the changes that have occurred and are occurring in Cambodia, while simultaneously supporting local businesses, being environmentally conscious, training tour guides in responsible tourism, providing cross-cultural exchanges, and creating job opportunities for Liger students to help further and fund their education after high school.
Liger students created Journeys of Change as part of their project-based learning curriculum, then developed it further into a fully-fledged business. Operated by students – with guidance from staff – It currently employs students as Business Managers, Marketing Managers, and Tour Guides.
Technovation is a global competition that offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Girls ages 10 to 18 learn to identify a problem in their community and create a mobile app solution to address that problem, and then learn how to communicate these ideas and translate them into a fully launched business.
In our first year of entering the competition, one Liger team made it to the global semi finals, representing the Asian region. In subsequent years, our teams continued to present strong placement in regional and global semifinals. In 2017, the Cambodia Identity Product team, qualified for and presented at the World Pitch Summit in San Francisco. They were awarded a scholarship which will enable them to advance their STEM skills and knowledge in the future.
Cambodia Economy Reference Book
While researching a separate project, Liger students realized that there was limited information about the Cambodian economy, in particular for students and laypeople. Having identified this need, students acted on their own incentive and undertook the daunting task of creating a reference book from scratch.
Over the course of a year, a group of ten Liger students (aged 12 and 13) collaborated to produce a professional, yet readable, volume outlining detailed information covering the six primary sectors of the Cambodian economy. The students researched the book independently and were responsible for all supporting information, photographs and infographics. Working with local facilitators and global digital mentors, the students then wrote and published the book in side-by-side English and Khmer (Cambodian) language.
The book was very well received. Not only is it carried in top tier commercial bookstores in Cambodia, but the Minister of Education was so impressed that he both wrote the book’s introduction personally and directed it to be distributed to approximately 500 Cambodian schools nationwide. Based on this success, and the ongoing evolution of the Cambodian economy, another group of Liger students is planning a Volume 2 for the school year 2018/2019.
According to a UNICEF report, it is estimated that six children die from drowning every day in Cambodia. Approximately 90% of all Liger students were non swimmers when they arrived on campus. Therefore with these statistics, it was critical that our students learned to swim and be safe around water. After developing their own swimming skills the LLA students felt it imperative to share this knowledge. They researched, developed and delivered an ad campaign to children in the provinces and also, developed and delivered water safety and swim lessons for young Cambodians from LLA surrounding communities.
The students also advanced their own swimming skills to the point where 6 to 10 students compete in the Mekong River Swim annually. The event is an open water 800m swim in strong currents, drawing participants of all ages from around the world. Some highlights from those swims include being the youngest ever swimmers to compete and placing 3rd in the overall team event.
Students prepared for and competed in the First Lego League Robotics competition in Singapore. They were the first ever Cambodian team to compete internationally in a robotics competition and they left the competition with the judges “Rising Stars” Award.
In subsequent years, Liger students increased in skill and competed in the Vex robotics competition. While the team from Liger was the youngest team, and the first ever representing Cambodia, they came away with what Judges Award.
There is a strong need to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in Cambodia. The World Bank in 2014 shows that less than 10 percent of Cambodian university students studied STEM-related majors.
To assist in moving the youth in Cambodia forward in this area, an annual STEM competition has be held over the past several years starting in 2015 by Kid City, a science museum in Phnom Penh. The goal of the competitions, supported by the Ministry of Education, is to improve STEM education for all students in Cambodia. Students worked in teams of boys and girls from government and international schools throughout Cambodia. The teams worked to solve complex design problems to develop their critical and analytical thinking.
Various teams from Liger have participated in this national competition with teams placing 1st and 3rd. Winning Liger students were also awarded $1500 worth of science books from a prominent local bookstore.
The Illustrated Guide To Wildlife of Cambodia
LLA worked in collaboration with a New York based non-profit organization “Art in a Box” to create a book on Cambodian Wildlife, depicting some 87 different Cambodian species and 7 ecosystems. Liger students worked with a wide variety of experts ranging from a New York artist, who mentored them in creating original watercolors for almost 100 animal species, to scientists worldwide adding expertise about the animals, to mentors working to publish the book in both Khmer (Cambodian language) and English. Students then worked on crowdfunding, designing and selling merchandise and other fundraising techniques to print enough books to distribute to government schools throughout Cambodia at the behest of the Minister for Education. The book is believed to be the first of its kind and is available for sale in prominent bookstores in Cambodia.
As a result of the publication of this book, our students were featured as experts on national television and a documentary providing potential solutions for Green Cities, forests and animals, pollution/new energies, and changing education and behavior.
Hidden Voices: Lost Music in Cambodia
In partnership with Cambodia Sings!, a local NGO, the students of Liger embarked on a journey to document the disappearing voices of Cambodian elders. With a long history of oral tradition and the loss of so many Cambodians during the Khmer Rouge era, students visited, interviewed and recorded village elders’ songs in Kampong Speu and Mondulkiri provinces to help preserve Cambodia’s rich past for future generations. Their final product was featured in a documentary and a podcast.
Gifted in Science Camp in Beijing, China
Three Liger students and a teacher were selected and funded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to represent Cambodia at the 8th ASEAN +3 Student Camp and Teacher Workshop for the Gifted in Science. The 3-day camp included students from Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Sweden, and the Philippines. Our students learned about a variety of science concepts and individually earned a gold medal and two bronze medals for their design expertise.
At the completion of the camp, Liger students were invited to present more information on the Liger program and Cambodian culture at one of the largest international schools in