Interview about Empowering leaders around the world

Naoko, is a socially engaged young woman who had this crazy dream to improve the quality of life of others and that’s exactly what she's been doing for the past 8 years! SOLS 24/7 supports vulnerable communities with educational tools and programs to establish rural economic systems and urban networks that will allow youth to become dynamic and self-sustaining.

Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to get to know more about SOLS 24/7 and the wonderful projects for empowering leaders. There is a lot to say about the educational programs you are running, so we would like to split up this interview into two parts. In this very first part, we would like to learn more about the organization since its foundation in Cambodia as well as to have a brief knowledge about the programs you are working with.

Naoko: Many thanks for inviting us to this interview. We are very pleased to get this opportunity to spread our volunteering programs and our message through your website. The organization is growing rapidly and we are looking for volunteers who could be dedicated to make a difference in the life of others. We believe everyone can take their important role for the betterment of society.

What does SOLS 24/7 stand for?

SOLS 24/7 stands for Science of Life Studies: 24 days and 7 days a week. We have a class called “Science of Life” in which we view life from a scientific perspective in order to continuously build up new educational strategies and develop our student’s potential in learning and social engagement.

How did SOLS 24/7 come about?

Dr. Madenjit  Singh came from Malasya to Cambodia in 1996 to visit the country. At that time the country was living a strong crisis and he realized that there was a radical social problem in the region so many people were not able to finish their education. Mr. Singh worked as a lecturer in Norton University, Phnom Penh and started providing free English language classes to youths in the neighborhood.

He believes in a new way to build the confidence of the population and that education is a key aspect to empower leaders around the world.

Tell us a little more about the educational programs in SOLS 24/7 Cambodia

In SOLS – Cambodia there are 19 different programs. They are divided into two main arms. We have our social service arm and the social enterprise arm. In the enterprise arm we charge a fee. For example the students come and study one hour or three hours a day and we charge them 5 dollars a month. These fees will support the social service arm. We also have a full time boarding program where we provide free education to those who are not able to continue their studies.  The full time program is mainly addressed to young people about 17. We also have children classes in the provinces and projects for young mothers. All in all we are running 63 rural and city centers sin Phnom Penh.

Rural centers are divided into two programs: We have second home students and part-time students. In rural areas children stop going to school because the schools are very far. We have developed second home centers where students learn English and stay in the school. On the weekend they go back home. The education is free but they need to pay for their food. In our main centers we have around 450 students.

How are you making this project sustainable?

I believe that we are very much focus on human potential. We very much focus on educating students to learn to give back to the society and become good citizens. After 6 months learning basic English, students are sent to the province centers to give back to society and be involved in teaching activities. That is how we maintain our resources.When we started the project the students were very young and they just studied English but we encouraged them to grow higher and become leaders of educational centers. We actually got surprised how they turned out to be great leaders.

We have learned by doing that peer to peer modeling is a key strategy to make projects sustainable.

What educational strategies does SOLS 24/7 use to fight against gender inequalities?

In Cambodia, people believe that men are higher than women. So when we opened the school the parents sent only boys to study. Then we implemented a very strong policy to fight against gender inequalities. Boys have to bring a female partner in order to be able to join the program. By doing this, girls we encourage gender balance and empowered girls in society and we show students that we all have the same potential.

What are the future plans of SOLS 24/7?

We would like to start the project in twenty different countries. We are educating leaders, so those who were students 10 years ago are now are country directors of other countries. They are getting more experience. We are getting ready for the next step to improve education access and empowering leaders around the world.

We thank SOLS 24/7- Cambodia and Naoko, for an in-depth and fascinating interview, and you guys for reading this blog! This is the first part of the interview, so stay tuned for more!

 In the meantime, we appreciate your feedback! What do you think about the strategies that SOLS 24/7 is using to make its programs sustainable?

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