Program and Influencing Coordinator, Oxfam
Course: Master of Social Work
University: University of South Australia
Advancing the development of inclusive and equitable quality education in Cambodia.
Sam Oeun Keo’s career path has aligned with his desire to help people and protect the most vulnerable. He has naturally gravitated toward work featuring community development and child protection elements. Winning an Australia Awards Scholarship to attend the University of South Australia and complete a Master’s degree in Social Work has allowed him to study his career passion in great detail and to formalize his skills and experience.
Since returning from Australia in 2017, Keo has held the position of School Counselling Manager at Western International School in Phnom Penh, where he has developed and implemented student-based counselling programs, which are rarely seen in Cambodia.
To complete the Master’s degree, Sam Oeun undertook a 1000-hour school and community-based placement that assigned him to lead teammates in several projects.
These included a grant writing application for the Cyprus Community and Seeds of Affinity in South Australia; and a mentoring program for international students. He also practiced in child protection and was involved with a transitional program for children with special needs.
“…in Australia, I had a tremendous opportunity to learn social work related issues in the Australian context, where I obtained both theoretical knowledge at the university and practical skills and knowledge at the field placement”.
His experience in Australia has enabled him to develop a comprehensive school-counselling program for grade 7-12 students at Western International School. The program guides students with academic, social, emotional and career development. He has introduced guidelines for school counselling services, lesson plans for classroom guidance, one-on-one and small group guidance and study skills.
“School based counselling is a newly created program in Cambodia, where students are required to have support for mental health and well-being, especially students in special-needs education.”
Sam Oeun is enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge and skills to help develop his country. He believes everyone has the chance to make a difference and his contribution is through improving the health and wellbeing of students to ensure they are supported in their studies and have strategies to manage stress, anxiety and depression.
“I really want to see a number of specialised personnel who are properly trained in this field play a significant role to promote inclusive and equitable quality education in Cambodia.”
He sees the Australia Awards program as a means to transform the potential of young Cambodians and is excited by what those with a positive attitude can achieve with nurturing and good choices: