Higher education not only contributes to greater economic stability, it also improves quality of life for individuals and raises the standard of living on a national level. Studies show that college and vocational training graduates live longer, and typically provide greater service and leadership in their communities.
But is tertiary education a good return on investment (ROI)? According to a recent report published in the USA, every $1 spent on a college education produces $34.85 in increased lifetime income. In countries like Cambodia, lower tuition for university and vocational training increases the potential ROI even more.
Yet for many children in developing countries, tertiary education remains an unachievable dream. Six years ago, the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) and supporting Methodist churches in Singapore decided to help make this dream a reality for children at COSI Children’s Village in Cambodia, by establishing a programme that would enable them to reintegrate into society and continue their education beyond high school.
In 2009, the first cohort of students was accepted into the Post-COSI Integration Program (PCOSIIP). All nine students from the initial batch successfully earned university degrees or vocational diplomas! Here is what some of them would like to share with you.
Chanthin Eang: “In 2012, I was the very first under PCOSIIP to graduate from the Royal Mekong University in Accounting. I want to serve God and help others, so I work as a house leader at COSI and take care of the accounts for both COSI and Emmaus Women’s Centre. I want to be a good role model for the younger children!”
Thav Veasna (above): “With the help of God and support from PCOSIIP, I was able to graduate at the top of my civil engineering class at the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia. I am the oldest of four children in my family. I help with The Boys’ Brigade at the Methodist School of Cambodia and serve as Manager of COSI. I hope to attend Bible School and become a pastor one day.”
Touch Sophorn: “First of all, I would like to thank PCOSIIP that gave me a chance to study in the university. I have just graduated from Physiotherapy at the Technical School for Medical Care. I went to hospitals in Battambang, Siem Reap and Kampong Som to do my internship. I learnt how to help adult patients with lumbar pain and neck pain, and also learnt how to care for children with disabilities. I hope to find a job in the hospital and be a good physiotherapist. God is good!” (Sophorn came to COSI when she was 10 years old, after her parents died from AIDS.)
Sinat Phok (above): “I am 22 years old and a 4th year student at the National University of Management. PCOSIIP provided for my university fees, a place to stay, food and transport. I was given the opportunity to learn how to teach and share God’s Word with other students at the Methodist Hostel where I stay. I am thankful to God for all sponsors who give of their love by giving toward PCOSIIP which provides for all our needs. Thank you!” (Sinat is serving with BAMBOO, the business-as-missions ministry, helping members of the Methodist community improve their livelihood.)
The PCOSIIP provides financial support, but more importantly it offers on-going spiritual training and encouragement. Missionary-in-charge Carol Loh, from Bedok Methodist Church, meets regularly with each student and they gather several times a year for group fellowship and prayer.
Including tuition, books, uniforms and a small allowance, the average annual cost to support one student ranges from USD$1200-2000 per year, depending on the course of study.
It only costs SGD$200 per month to make a life-changing difference for these young men and women! Today, 34 young Christian men and women are participating in PCOSIIP. Next year and the year after, there will be more. All they need is a helping hand… a chance to better themselves, their families, and their communities. With higher education comes increased economic stability, which also has a direct and positive impact on the growth and sustainability of the Methodist Church in Cambodia.
Help raise up the next generation of Christian leaders in business, government, health and education sectors in Cambodia. Please, give today and give generously to PCOSIIP! After all, where else can you find such a positive ROI nowadays?
DONATE through MMS – make out your cheque to “The Methodist Church in Singapore (MMS)”, and mail it to the Methodist Missions Society, 70 Barker Road, #06-01, the Methodist Centre, S(309936). Please designate the donation for PCOSIIP by note or on the back of your cheque.
The Rev Teresa Wilborn is a missionary from Aldersgate Methodist Church and the Assistant Director of Community Development in the Methodist Missions Society.