In 2005, supporters of Cambodia, already highly involved in providing aid to the country’s extremely poverty-stricken population, decided to establish the Passerelles numériques (Digital Bridges) association. Its aim is to provide quality training in information and communication technologies for young underprivileged Cambodians, almost all of whom come from families living next to the Phnom Penh public landfill, and passionate about computers.
To achieve this goal, the members of the board of Passerelles numériques intend building an IT initiation center to be called the CIST (Center for Information Training System). Here, several dozen students, scouted from the schools managed by the Pour un sourire d’enfant (PSE) (For a Child’s Smile) and Enfants du Mékong (EDM) (Children of the Mekong) associations, will follow a course giving them a solid IT grounding from as young as 18. For the duration of the course, PSE and EDM undertake to monitor the students’ social conditions and ensure they have board and lodging.
Commitment from IT majors
Passerelles numériques is not improvising this project: its board includes, in addition to the directors of EDM and PSE, the former director of Accenture France. Partnerships have been signed with Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco. Thanks to this support, the CIST already has hardware and software, and it has been assured of the involvement of thirty-one Accenture volunteers, who will provide their knowledge and experience free-of-charge. Twenty-five students started the course in October 2005. A year later, with significant support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the CIST started its first one-year program.
Today, given the success of this initiative, the association needs to secure the building where it gives its classes (to avoid eviction), and increase the available space. The CIST plans to build a three-level building with five IT laboratories, six classrooms for fifteen to twenty-five students, and offices for the teachers and administrative staff.
The Veolia Foundation’s is helping finance this new school in support of the CIST. It can be certain that this project will provide young people with a profession and the assurance of finding a job, thereby escaping their poverty-stricken background.