Southeast Asia School Development Project for OOSC

Across remote rural communities in Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal, access to quality primary education is inhibited for myriad diverse factors. In the Ratanakiri and Stung Treng Provinces of Cambodia, stigmatisation and discrimination against ethnic minority communities have pushed indigenous peoples outside the reach of the public education system. According to UNESCO, Myanmar allocated just 1.6 percent of its GDP to education in 2010, which had been indicative of generations of underinvestment in the country’s education systems. To date, the Myanmar government does not have the capacity or the infrastructure to reach the most remote communities in rural areas. As for Nepal, scant government investment in education and where schools exist, mismanagement, teacher absenteeism, a lack of parental commitment and the high-cost of school fees, coalesce to put education out of bounds for the most disparate members of society.

From the outset of each school development project, United World Schools (UWS) engages with local stakeholders to foster a sense of accountability and ownership of the project. UWS works with the local education ministry to align with their priorities and sees itself as accountable to the community and the parents for the quality of the education; in turn, they are accountable to UWS for supporting student enrolment and retention. 

To reach 33,830 OOSC in these three countries, UWS will build 163 new primary schools over the life of the project. The project model consists of the following five key components: 1) consultation with government and local communities to elicit support/buy-in for project interventions; 2) global education partnerships with affluent schools and/or organisations to engender financial sustainability; 3) empowered School Support Committees (SSCs) that help manage the school and support attendance and retention efforts; 4) quality assurance through regular monitoring of qualitative and quantitative variables, teacher training and consultation with SSCs); and 5) the value for money principle whereby schools are built in areas that can provide basic quality education at a cost of US$1 per student per week. 

Regarding sustainability, UWS seeks to hand over a well-established, effective and well-governed school to an authority with the means to manage it properly and integrate it effectively into the national education system. Specifically, UWS aims to establish schools with qualified and trained teachers who have access to the tools necessary to do their job; measure student progress in literacy and numeracy each term throughout the project’s three-year life cycle; and cultivate active and functioning SSCs.

*EAC would like to thank KOICA for their generous co-financing contribution to this project.

Project finished


United World Schools

Through community consultation and ownership, EAC and United World Schools (UWS) are teaming up to build schools and enrol 33,830 out of school children (OOSC) across Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal.

Korea International Cooperation Agency (co-Financing Partner)

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) was established as a government-funded agency dedicated to providing grant-aid programmes on the part of the Korean Government in 1991.




The Kingdom of Cambodia has, over the last decade, enjoyed robust economic growth – GDP is estimated to have grown at approximately 8 percent between 2000 and 2010, and at least at 7 percent since 2011. As such, the government envisions Cambodia entering the realms of lower-middle income country status by 2030 and achieving developed country status by 2050.


Myanmar, the largest mainland country in Southeast Asia, is home to more than approximately 130 ethnic groups with distinct cultures and languages. The country has known periodic spells of armed conflict and inter-communal violence, particularly in border areas, which trigger flows of refugees and internal displacement. In addition, poverty is a formidable development challenge in Myanmar. According to the 2009-2010 Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey in Myanmar, 26 percent of the population lived below the national poverty line and poverty incidence was concentrated in Ayeyarwaddy, Chin, Rakhine, Shan and Tanintharyi.


Located between China to the North and India to the South, Nepal is a landlocked country composed of a vastly diverse population with distinct cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. A 2011 national census revealed that the country was home to at least 125 ethnic groups. According to the Nepal Living Standards Survey conducted the year prior, approximately one-fourth of the population lives below the poverty line. Furthermore, the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index classified Nepal 157 amongst 187 countries. In April 2015, a massive earthquake killed scores of people and devastated the country’s infrastructure.