Developing Cambodia From The Bottom Up

The CIST – Centre for Information Systems Training – was launched in 2005 in Phnom Penh to provide disadvantaged students with IT training and qualifications leading to a job. In 2009 it will reach its full capacity and bring 200 people out poverty each year to become actors of the economic development of Cambodia within the IT sectors.


The CIST – Centre for Information Systems Training – was launched in 2005 in Phnom Penh to provide disadvantaged students with IT training and qualifications leading to a job. To fulfill the needs of companies, it develops training programs which:
– Integrate the knowledge of English and of business environment,
– Promote business values and professional behaviors.

Today, after 26 months of activities, CIST reached an intermediate size with 147 students coming from poor social environments. The success ratio of the project reaches 100% for the 20 students of the pilot promotion who all found a job in the biggest companies and institutions of the country.

This success is the result of a focus on a very professional, high quality educational program with:
- An innovative pedagogical approach taking into account the specific needs of students from very poor social backgrounds,
- Strong links developed with the business world, enabling to bridge education with professional opportunities.

A specific NGO, Passerelles Numériques (“Digital Bridges”), was created in 2006 to leverage this expertise in new projects. This NGO has the legal purpose to reduce the digital divide, especially by offering access to education and to opportunities for employment through personal and professional development programs to the most underprivileged populations.

Current status & results of CIST
CIST follows four guiding principles:
1. A fair selection of students from underprivileged family backgrounds, having adequate capacities and high motivation,
2. An efficient IT training: professional, targeted and certified,
3. Promotion of business values & professional behaviours – rigour, professionalism, open-mindedness, spirit of initiative,
4. Support of students in their job search thanks to a network of partner companies.

Four key-partners guarantee the quality of curricula development and teachers training:
1. Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), the leading engineer school of Cambodia,
2. SUPINFO, a graduate school of Computer Science based in France and in China,
3. CISCO, the world leader of network technologies – CIST is a CISCO Academy,
4. Novell, a major player in the Linux world with its Suse distribution.

Leading IT companies – Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, CISCO, STMi – have offered top-level computer and networking equipment.

CIST first developed a two-year curriculum for high-school graduates, called “SNA” (Systems and Networks Administration). Students learn how to install, configure and maintain computers and networks in small to mid-size organizations.

The training focuses on maximum interaction with local companies through various activities: company visits, conferences, workshops and internships which bring feedback on the training adequacy and allow its permanent tuning.

An innovative model of skills sponsorship has been developed between CIST and Accenture and then with several other partners including Steria, ECS, Novell: since 2005,
– 70 volunteers have dedicated 2 weeks of their vacation to a mission pre-defined by CIST,
– 4 Pro Bono missions of six-months have participated to build the capacities of local staff.

Through this win-win form of partnership corporate citizenship becomes a reality, while CIST reaches the highest standards of professionalism, and delivers:
– 20 students (10 boys and 10 girls) have completed IT training and found a qualified job in one of the major IT companies or organizations of Cambodia.
– 61 students are completing their 2nd year of studies following a first internship, and 86 more started in October, 2007.

Developing job opportunities in socially responsible outsourcing
Digital Divide Data (DDD), an American NGO founded in 2001, provides work-and-study opportunities to disadvantaged people in data entry / labor intensive outsourcing IT services. DDD and CIST share the same objective of using IT to build skills for work and life for the most disadvantaged people.

There is a perfect match between the two organizations: a strong partnership is under development, whereby CIST will become the recruitment and training arm of DDD and DDD will become the business arm of CIST.

As a first level of cooperation, CIST and DDD are developing:

1. A programming curriculum, to help DDD enhance their offer of services and to fulfill a growing demand on the local market.

2. An English and data entry training, to better answer the needs of beneficiaries, creating labor-intensive job opportunities open to low-level students.

In 2009 the CIST will reach its full capacity. Each year 200 people will be brought out poverty and become actors of the economic development of Cambodia within the IT sectors.

As of 2008/ 2009, our aim is to leverage our model by opening new training centers in other developing countries of Asia (Thaïland, Vietnam, India, Philippines…). We will do so with an innovative approach built on e-learning solutions, using the CIST in Phnom-Penh as our expert center. Feasibility studies are currently being conducted in Thaïland, Vietnam and the Philippines with the support of Accenture volunteers from France and Thaïland. In 2008 we will launch in India another opportunity study for the development of our model with a quantum jump enabling to train thousands of students each year.

Passerelles Numériques / Digital Bridges is seeking more partners for funding, developing and building projects to achieve its vision: a future where young people from any country and any background would have equal opportunities to express their talents in the IT world.

For more information please contact:
In Phnom Penh: Alain Goyé, +855 12 60 10 61 – [email protected]
In Paris: Amélie Huard, +33 3 80 97 26 41 – [email protected]
In New York: Digital Divide Data, +1 212 461 3700 – [email protected]

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Published: 07 Jan 2008


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Websites: Centre for Information Systems Training (CIST)