Cambodia (Phnom Penh)
The Liger Leadership Academy in Phnom Penh is an astonishing secondary school set up by a couple of North American tech entrepreneurs that offers scholarships to build socially-conscious leaders of the future in Cambodia.
With 65 per cent of the population under 30 years old, Cambodia’s future rests in the hands of its youth. Liger Leadership Academy believes it is imperative to equip a new generation with the capacity and drive to lead the country’s future social and economic development in the right direction.
Because of the Khmer Rouge, a whole generation was lost and so there’s a leadership vacuum in the country. Liger is a selective school, but they scour the whole of Cambodia and are very sophisticated in how they judge these kids and see potential leadership talent.
“Liger students aren’t waiting for tomorrow; they are changing their country now.””
The school was founded by Trevor Gile and Agnieszka Tynkiewicz-Gile in 2010. “Visiting Cambodia for the first time in 2002, my wife and I fell in love with the country and its people,” Trevor explains. “Determined to direct our efforts toward development in Cambodia, we have strived to create not just a single academy, but a model that can be replicated virtually anywhere.”
Their mission is to educate the promising youth of today to develop entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow. Liger learners are taught to become ‘Change Agents’, to seeking real-world problems and create solutions. They also provide a residential scholarship program for economically disadvantaged students that combines a comprehensive, internationally competitive education with an innovative STEM and entrepreneurship curriculum. “At Liger Leadership Academy, we believe that the most effective form of aid is not a handout, but rather a hand up.”
All the tuition is in English and Khmer, but the significant thing about it is that the students are almost always out of school doing graduate-level projects, many of which the government requests these young people to do. This could include long-term projects such as building an artificial reef off the coast of Cambodia, an attempt to launch the country’s first ever satellite or even writing and publishing groundbreaking books on the economy.
“Imagine you’re 13 and writing a book about the economy of your country, it gets printed and then thousands of people are reading it,” adds Jeffrey Holte, the LIger Director of Education. “The work is very real, compelling and motivating. Everything we do here is for real.”
Explicitly saying that school should be about developing social entrepreneurship is a really powerful idea. Liger has proven that it works because a lot of their students are getting offers from North American Ivy League Universities. Students have also become internationally published authors, app and digital currency developers, regionally recognised robotics engineers and national award-winning filmmakers – and all by the age of 18.
AtlasAction: Donate to support a future Liger leader of Cambodia.
Read more ► Liger Leadership Academy was mapped by David Price in his AtlasChart Top 5 – a journey through five schools doing things differently from Cambodia to Catalonia.
Trevor Gile and Agnieszka Tynkiewicz-Gile, Founders