I am writing this letter in reference to your news article entitled "Girls-in-schools
program fears" (PPPost July 4, 2003).
My understanding of the intent of this article was to try to help garner support
for a Girls' Lower Secondary School Scholarship Program operated by KAPE, a local
NGO in Kampong Cham province, by bringing attention to its funding uncertainties
in the coming academic year. I would like to thank the Post and its reporting staff
for their efforts in this regard.
Unfortunately, the overall effect of your article has not been helpful. In particular,
I must voice concern for any distress that your article may have caused to USAID
or the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports by suggesting a tone of distrust between
KAPE and its primary donor as well as the government. This does not in any way match
the reality of relations or the quality of interaction with USAID or government.
While KAPE is certainly disappointed that USAID will likely not renew its funding
to the Girls' Scholarship Program next year, as you point out due to a change in
strategic priorities, you failed to mention the deep gratitude which KAPE feels towards
USAID through whose foresight and generosity there has been continuous funding for
the program over the last three years. This is a serious misrepresentation of what
I had indicated during the interview.
With respect to KAPE's view of the Ministry's soon-to-be-launched national scholarship
program, you imply that we do not want to see such a program implemented and that
the government program will be characterized by "leakages".
In this regard you fail to mention that the whole purpose of KAPE's pilot program
was to inform a national program operated by government, or that we have collaborated
very closely and cordially with the government over the last three years with this
intention in mind.
As for your mention of leakages, the context of my statement was that there is a
risk of such problems with ALL scholarship programs no matter where they occur or
who operates them. NGO-operated scholarship programs also have leakage, which is
why we provide most of our assistance to local committees in kind, and not in cash.
In the coming year, KAPE will be working with the Ministry very closely to implement
a limited national pilot program whereby we provide capacity-building support in
collaboration with Ministry to local committees to prevent such problems.
KAPE is hopeful that there can continue to be good cooperation and strong partnership
between ourselves and government in the future as in the past, and that the proposed
national program will be met with strong success through our mutual efforts.
- Kurt Bredenberg - Advisor - Kampuchean Action for Primary Education (KAPE)