Sam Chea is 21 years old and just starting out as a teacher in a multilingual education primary school in Kratie province. He comes from Sre Chhouk village in north-eastern Cambodia, home to many of the country’s indigenous ethnic minority communities.
Chea’s mother tongue is Bunong. As with many remote villages, keeping up with education, especially beyond primary school, is not always easy.
School and home may be far apart and could involve crossing land and river to arrive; these same distances put pressure on family income for basic livelihood, sometimes causing children to prioritize work over school; so children from remote villages tend to be more vulnerable to school dropouts.
But Chea has a passion for learning and was determined to continue his studies. Even when he was studying in Sandan High School, he found a way to overcome the 80km of distance from home to the high school.
He was an excellent student, particularly in physics, earning the top score among his peers in Kratie province.