Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Impoverished grade-A student looks to future

Impoverished grade-A student looks to future

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Khao Udom, a grade-A student from a poor family, says he wants to study IT. Photo supplied

Impoverished grade-A student looks to future

Of the 90,950 candidates that sat the December 5 high school examinations, just 1,049 students nationwide earned an A grade.

Some of these top academics come from poor backgrounds, with the difficulty of their daily lives serving as motivation for their efforts.

One such example is Khao Udom, of Banteay Meanchey province. The 19-year-old lives with his widowed mother in Por Roam Bon village of Phnom Srok district’s Ponlei commune.

Udom is the oldest of three children.

Like many of the Kingdom’s rural poor, Udom’s achievements are all the more remarkable, as he has to not only dedicate himself to his studies, but also assist his mother with work on the family’s small farm.

He holds out hope that his pursuit of education will see him lift his family out of their current impoverished state.

Thanks to his dedication to his schoolwork, Udon has been ranked at the top of his class in almost every month since grade 10. This is despite the 12km distance he had to travel to school each day.

“By the 12th grade, I was working even harder on my studies, focusing on additional tuition on top of my lessons at school. I also practised self-study at home on my own. I estimate that I studied from 13 to 15 hours per day,” he said.

Udom also took the time to investigate how former grade A students had achieved their results. He spent many hours online reading testimonies and interviews, and then adapted their methods into his own.

“My biggest motivation to focus on my education is the fact that my family is poor. I want to work hard and make sure that I can get a job that will change that,” he explained.

Udom has wanted to study information technology since he was a young man, and has set his sights on studying at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), but unfortunately did not win a scholarship.

He said he will receive some support from his uncle, but is concerned that it may not be enough for him to complete his studies.

Udom is also struggling with some health problems, which arose in 2020 when he was forced to take work as a construction labourer during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nonetheless, he is confident that he will make a success of himself, even if it takes longer than he would like.

“If I cannot find a scholarship programme or obtain a grant, I will apply to sit the junior high school teacher exam. If I cannot pass that, then I will find some work and begin to save for my tuition,” said Udom.


  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • PM urges end to ‘baseless’ international Ream base accusations

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urges an end to “baseless” foreign accusations surrounding the development of the Kingdom’s Ream Naval Base, as the US has consistently suggested that the base is being expanded to accommodate a Chinese military presence. Hun Sen renewed his calls while

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.