Founders’ Story

A Lot Done. A Lot More To Do.

SeeBeyondBorders' Story

SeeBeyondBorders was founded in 2009 by Edward and Kate Shuttleworth. The couple had a shared determination to improve life for children in Cambodia. Initially operating in Battambang and Siem Reap Provinces, the organisation dedicates itself to transforming education for Cambodian children by providing access to quality teaching and learning in public primary schools.

Today, SeeBeyondBorders has grown into an internationally accredited charitable organisation with a local leadership team led in Cambodia by Country Manager Pheung Pov. SeeBeyondBorders is the only charity in Cambodia to have won a UNESCO award for improving teachers with its peer mentoring program. It works at grassroots and systemic levels to bring about positive and sustainable change through education.   

SeeBeyondBorders’ dedication to improving teacher quality is highly regarded by teachers, school principals and the Ministry of Education. Change begins with education.

“I believe education is the key to making positive change here in Cambodia.” 

Country Manager Cambodia, SeeBeyondBorders, Pheung Pov

Why we are here?

Our Founders, Edward and Kate Shuttleworth, travelled to Cambodia with their young family in 2002 and were immediately struck by what they saw. They were volunteering in an area where families had moved when all other options had been exhausted, near the port of Sihanoukville, a very different place twenty years ago. From here the migrants could do business with sailors, but the area would flood in high tides bringing in the accumulated rubbish normally left floating in the harbour, leaving it impaled on fences and caught in ditches as the water receded. In every way, the end of the universe.

The trip was a turning point for the Shuttleworths, leading to their decision to combine their joint, passionate belief that change begins with education and establish SeeBeyondBorders in 2009. They were determined to contribute something meaningful that best aligned with their own skill-sets and so set out to improve the quality of education available in Cambodian primary schools. Their focus from the start was to help teachers gain skills and access to basic resources, so they could teach with some effect. They knew that quality teaching gives children access to more choices in their lives, something so obviously missing for the families they had met in Sihanoukville.

Over the last 10 years the SeeBeyondBorders team has grown the charity from that simple idea to become an internationally recognised, award winning organisation with a local leadership team.

SeeBeyondBorders’ dedication to improving teacher quality is highly regarded by teachers, school principals and government officials alike. The objective of the charity is clear – we want children to learn in school to secure opportunities for their futures.

“The mentor program is innovative in its approach and offers an exciting opportunity for teachers across the country to be part of a genuinely collaborative and supportive network of professional communities of practice.”

Cambodian Minister of Education, H.E. DR. Hang Chuon Naron

“Being part of SeeBeyondBorders’ programs has improved me hugely as a teacher.”

Cambodian Early Grade Teacher, Makara Sout

A message from Edward Shuttleworth

I sometimes get asked, “So is this just a White Saviour complex that has you doing this work as the boss of an NGO today?” 

The question always sets me back and triggers the fight or flight reflex! “But really?” I often ask this of myself, “Is that why you have chosen this life style and missed so many of those crucial events for your own family?” I know that is a key question, something that deserves a considered and as honest an answer as possible. 

“I don’t really know” I begin. “Perhaps in some ways. Like all parents, Kate and I want to see children grow up in a healthy, nurturing environment and to achieve their full potential. Doesn’t everyone? So yes, perhaps there is some over active parenting going on that has its roots in that original visit and what we witnessed.”  

We have surely learned a great deal about what we can and cannot change, how long change takes, and what the different costs might be. Our own measure of success, our own measure of whether what we set out to do will be meaningful, is to work ourselves out of a job. Together with the team at SeeBeyondBorders, we do think we can bring something valuable that contributes towards a fairer, more prosperous Cambodia for all. However, once we have explained, demonstrated, and modelled what quality education can achieve and can resemble, it’s then up to Cambodians whether they continue to build on SeeBeyondBorders’ programs, beyond the handholding, the payment for attendance, the awards for good performance, and the bags of resources. There is only so far it would be right for any of us to go, even just as individuals concerned enough to offer help, before it all becomes just a job for one’s own economic gain.

At the end of the day, there is probably no harm in taking some satisfaction from a job well done if it has actually been done well and that of course is for all our stakeholders to decide.

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