Aide et Action is proud to lead the Cambodian Consortium of Out of School Children, which aims to provide marginalized, out of school children in Cambodia with access to equitable, quality, and relevant primary education.
Across Cambodia, many local families are struggling to make ends meet. In rural areas, home to 90% of the country’s poor, parents are often pressured to migrate to the city in search of better economic opportunities. Unfortunately, without an education behind them and without land titles they are forced into insecure work and poor living conditions and are often unable to provide adequate care for their children, leaving them at home unsupervised and out of school.
Under the Consortium, we partner with Cambodia’s YMCA to support a childcare centre offering early childcare education and supervision for children in Siem Reap affected by poverty and migration. Last year, the centre welcomed 17 children aged between 3-5 years and supported parents to enrol children in primary school once they turn six years old. All of the children come from the local area and the majority are from impoverished backgrounds.
A typical day at the centre
A typical day in the centre sees the children arrive before 8am in time for breakfast, provided by the centre. The morning’s activities include interactive learning games, physical education in the playground, storytelling time and environmental education. Lunch is served at 11am followed by a nap. After the children’s naps, the staff shower and clean the children before offering an afternoon of colouring and art.
Pre-school teacher Ging-ga says she’s been very happy to see positive changes in the children attending. “When they joined the centre, they didn’t even know how to hold a pencil, let alone colour pictures, but now they are learning art well and have even learnt their colours” she says. “If the children weren’t here they would be with their parents working on the street or left at home on their own but here they have a chance to play, socialise, learn and just be kids” she adds.
Ging-ga has also noticed a change in the children’s behaviour where they have learned conflict resolution and are now playing peacefully together, which she says is a stark contrast from when they first joined the centre.
Health and well-being
In Cambodia, despite some good progress in recent years, the number of children under five years old suffering from malnutrition remains high with 32% of these children showing signs of stunting, 24% being underweight and 10% being wasted. Undernutrition is both a major cause and an effect in the cycle of poverty triggered by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene and feeding practices (Unicef). One of the primary contributors to malnutrition is diarrhoea as a result of poor sanitation.
To improve health and well-being, Ging-ha and her colleagues offer the children hygiene education; teaching them how to wash their hands with soap and water, reducing the risk of diarrhoea. Research suggests that effective handwashing reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 23-40% This, combined with clean drinking water and two meals per day at the centre can have a big impact.
Continuing on to primary school
Once the children at the centre turn six years old, the staff work with parents to enrol them into primary school and help the parents with the required paperwork. High levels of illiteracy coupled with a lack of birth registration documents can hinder parents in the process of registering their child for school. Aide et Action also provides primary school scholarships for students marginalised by poverty to contribute towards the cost of books, uniforms and other school materials.
Here at Aide et Action, we believe that a multi-faceted approach to increasing access to education is needed in order to reach the most marginalised children. We are delighted to work with YMCA and many other local partners to give Cambodian children a chance at a brighter future.