The Challenge of Education and the Work of Non-Profits in Southeast Asia: Select Case Studies in Cambodia and the Philippines in Modern Times
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The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of a non-government organization (NGO) called Build Your Future Today (BFT) in Cambodia and a non-profit social enterprise called Paradise Ranch (PR) in the Philippines. Both entities, in one way or another, focus on educational improvement—BFT by teaching knowledge leading to self-sustaining enterprises and PR by educating Indigenous People to maintain their forest environment and then to go beyond to develop their talents. This study also provides a description and analysis of the challenges that the Cambodian and Filipino governments face today, particularly in coming to grips with the enormous and critical need of education in an increasingly interdependent world. The key and unique resource for this study was individual, on site interviews by me of natives involved in daily life, in education, and in the two above-mentioned non-profit entities in Cambodia and the Philippines. In Cambodia, a two-month case study was conducted in Siem Reap to assess and observe how the NGO, Build Your Future Today Center, assisted in the education system within rural areas. In the Philippines, research was conducted in Pampanga to assess and observe how the social enterprise, Paradise Ranch, assisted Indigenous People to conserve the environment. Although both organizations specialized in different matters, the challenge of education was central to each entity and thus becomes a way to compare the effectiveness of the two non-profits and of the challenges that they and the respective governments confront in improving the lives of the people. In order to place the challenge of education and the role of the government and the non-profit endeavors into context, a history of Cambodian education and a history of the Indigenous People in the Philippines is provided. It includes information on how both countries evolved under colonial powers, different types of governments, religious institutions, and war. Additionally, an analysis of the role of non-profits within Cambodia and the Philippines further explains the impact that these entities have made on local communities. The interviews of students, teachers, members of the Indigenous People, and managers of Build Your Future Today and of Paradise Ranch have been summarized to protect the identity of all involved and to more easily describe and summarize qualitative information and results. The conclusion of this study is that education is essential to the modernization of Cambodia and the Philippines. There are many challenges to education. In both countries, governments must eliminate corruption and begin remedying the many challenges to education by first prioritizing needs and then investing in education, with a special focus on rural communities in Cambodia and on the environment and Indigenous People in the Philippines. The theory of backwards mapping may apply to variations of culture as it might be a template that could work in Cambodia or Philippines. It stresses that the government must first understand local needs before it can address countrywide needs. In both countries, the government should offer more resources and educational tools to ensure that the lives of the rural communities and Indigenous People are enriched and have a hopeful future. This study also concludes that non-profits can be quite useful in the education field. The key to effectiveness occurs when the government is short of resources, and NGOs and non-profit social enterprises step in and provide resources and ultimately show success by transferring knowledge and technology to local constituencies who then become self-sustaining enterprises or individuals who no longer need non-profit assistance. Like BFT and Paradise Ranch, such local enterprises must consider generating other types of revenues to become self-sustainable.