WHU GMP+ Team opens new learning center in Cambodia

The capability program team in front of the new learning center
Happy about the success: the GMP+ team in front of the new learning center

What a week full of pace and action, followed by a crowd of 300 children and young adults waiting anxiously to get a first glimpse of our new learning center in Tonloab in Southern Cambodia. The candidates of our first pilot program with leading business school WHU called “General Management Plus Program” (GMP+) did an amazing job in turning an used school building into a community-based learning center for the 11,000 inhabitants.

Since September 2013, the 12 candidates of the GMP+ have been working hard on developing a sustainable business plan for a community-based learning center in one of the poorest districts in Cambodia. All happened virtually in close collaboration with local tandem partners. The team managed to convince UBS Foundation to invest EUR 20,000 in the learning center.

IT classes will take place in the seminary room
IT classes will take place in the seminary room

But would the business plan proof to be valid in practice? On April 26, the team arrived in Tonloab. Upon visiting the future building of the learning center, it was clear to everyone that there was a lot to do. Within just 6 days, the team managed to not only turn an old school building into a modern learning facility, but also to conduct focus groups with the community and develop a curriculum which is bound to start on June 1.

Pen Vannak, the Head of the Learning Center
Pen Vannak, the Head of the Learning Center

The learning center is well rooted in the community. Besides UBS, the local government invests in the learning center by providing the building as a long-term in-kind investment. Also, prior to traveling to Cambodia, the team had selected Vannak as Community Hero to run the learning center. Vannak will be guided by an Advisory Board consisting of the Head of the Community Council, the local Director of the District Education Office as well as Sokhan Khut from BOOKBRIDGE.

Children from Tonloab discover the new library with donated books
Children from Tonloab discover the new library with donated books

On May 2, the great moment had come. Over 300 children and young adults attended the opening ceremony, followed by an opening of the learning center to the public. This has been a lifetime’s experience for the entire team. On the first week of opening, Vannak had to limit the number of visitors to cope with the demand of the community for reading and learning offers. What an amazing start! Let’s keep fingers crossed for the start of the curriculum on June 1.

Do you also want to become a change maker? The next WHU General Management Plus Program is about to start in November 2014 at WHU Campus Düsseldorf. For more information, contact Carsten (carsten@bookbridge.org) and visit the WHU´s website.

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