Small Art School (SAS) is a self-financed art school, founded by a Japanese art teacher - Tomoko Kasahara, with the aim to provide free art education to Cambodian children, especially for those children who have the will to learn but lack the opportunities to do so.
Our aim is to provide opportunities for children to experience joy through different art activities that would encourage their creative expression and artistic exploration. Meanwhile, we aim to help our young adult students in developing their professional art skills and capabilities as we support them towards achieving their dreams.
Tomoko Kasahara had been an art teacher for 31 years at Japanese public schools in Tokyo, Japan. During the span of her career, she dreamed of putting up a school that offers free art education somewhere in Asia. When she turned about the age of 40, she was set to make her dream a reality. At that time, she prepared her own funds and visited some Asian countries such as Nepal and India to find a location upon where to build her dream art school.
Early 2003, Tomoko met some Cambodians in Tokyo and learned about their history, education, and current situation at that time. They relayed their concern about how there were very limited opportunities for children to go to school in Cambodia. Upon hearing about this, Tomoko decided to visit Cambodia to see the current situation herself. During this visit, she then realized that it was the perfect location upon where she wanted to pursue her dream of building a free art school for children. Specifically, she chose the location of Siem Reap, Cambodia, where you can find the world heritage ruin temples of Angkor Wat.
At the age of 59, Tomoko decided that it was time for her to retire. And on December 2008, she founded the ‘Small Art School in Siem Reap, Cambodia. With her passion and hard work, she was able to build her dream of putting up a school that stays true to her vision. Today, ‘Small Art School’ (SAS) continues to provide free art education to children in Cambodia, with its art programs growing rapidly over the years. To communicate better with students, Tomoko is accompanied by her Khmer and Japanese interpreter Hea Cheav in all her art activities, providing not only Japanese-Khmer interpretation, but also conversational Japanese lessons. Currently, SAS also teaches at 5 locations near their school in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The school has taught approximately over 800 students in Cambodia with ages ranging from 3 to 24 years old.
With passion towards helping children, Tomoko and her colleagues continue with their efforts to provide free and quality education that promotes their students’ creative expression while allowing them to cherish joyful experiences as they grow. They are very proud of their students who have deepened and broadened their knowledge and creative abilities through Small Art School’s programs and activities.