Jeffrey Holte, Director of Education, Liger Leadership Academy
Liger Leadership Academy
What is the Liger Leadership Academy?
Why we do it?
In developing countries, a strong education can offer individuals a hopeful future and a chance to make lasting beneficial change in their community. However, in underfunded school systems where few high-quality schools exist, children can have very limited opportunities to develop the skills and attributes necessary to be change makers. Careers in STEM or entrepreneurship can create livelihoods for individuals and positively impact whole communities, but without an already strong economy, it is difficult to fund education in these fields. This means that children from around the developing world, in particular, lack the opportunity to develop to their full potential and communities miss out.
How we do it
The Liger Leadership Academy is a not for profit school that recruits children from various provinces in Cambodia to change their lives and expand their opportunities and in doing so create the change agents for the future of the country. Through a six-year program of project-based, opportunity-based learning and a focus on entrepreneurship and STEAM, students are learning the skills to create change in their own communities and beyond.
At Liger, students learn about the world around them by becoming active change agents in that world. The school embodies a design thinking approach, encouraging students to think deeply, brainstorm ideas, plan and implement solutions to real problems. Liger allows for at least 25% of the time for experiential learning off campus. This could include long-term projects such as building an artificial reef off the coast of Cambodia, working with experts and politicians to affect policy change, or even researching, writing and publishing groundbreaking books on the economy, wildlife, geography, indigenous communities, etc. Students are also free to spend a couple days a week on a long-term (1-3 year) research project of their choosing, to fit around their essential learning. Liger students work in partnership with the government to create STEM projects that are not too demanding of resources and money.
The learning is truly personalized and differentiated towards a student’s interests, skills, and passion. Every effort is made to accommodate a student’s interests. If a pupil wants to go on a week-long seminar on business start-ups or a two-day course on birds with expert ornithologists, the school arranges this. Students create a portfolio of their best work which is representative of their unique learning journey and personal growth.
Who is a Teacher?
In addition to learning by trained teachers, Liger invites industry experts from around the world to visit the school either in person or virtually. At Liger you will find anything from skype guitar lessons to visiting geologists leading geological fieldwork throughout Cambodia to filmmakers mentoring our students on documentary projects. Working with these and many other international experts means there is no end to quality learning opportunities. The school puts a strong emphasis on Cambodian culture so that, as well as understanding and experiencing other cultures, the children take a deep knowledge and pride in their own country and culture.
Liger travels around Cambodia and select students with significant potential, based on how they exhibit leadership, ingenuity, creativity, and enthusiasm - not just academic skills.
Liger Leadership Academy has the potential to scale the program to other countries as we believe the program can significantly enhance the learning for all students. We are currently completing comprehensive documentation of how to develop a Liger Leadership Academy in various locations around the world.
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