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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Project aims to fill classrooms in rural Cambodia

Project aims to fill classrooms in rural Cambodia

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A diagram warns against child abuse at a seminar sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the Child Rights Foundation in Phnom Penh, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Ten-year-old Daneth spends most of her days at the stoplights along Norodom Boulevard selling flowers to waiting motorists.

She makes between 5,000 and 10,000 riel ($1.25 and $2.50) a day, selling stalks that cost as little as 500 riel.

The money she makes supplements her family’s income, but it’s a hard life. What Daneth really wants is to be like other kids her age.

“I want to go to school,” she said. And she might soon get her wish, if a joint project by the Child Rights Foundation (CRF) and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports bears fruit.

The project – Mainstreaming Child Rights in Cambodian’s Education System – aims to encourage parents in the Kingdom to send their kids to school, especially in rural areas, by providing materials like uniforms, books and bicycles to needy families.

“Children must have a right to go to school for education and not stay at home to work,” said Mom Thany, executive director of the CRF.

Thany told the Post that most parents kept their children from school because they could not afford to pay for school materials and because schools were sometimes too far away in the rural areas.

“These families only need their children to work during the harvest or planting season, when they need more help,” she said, adding that these children miss between one and two weeks of school during these periods.

Apart from that, parents are quite willing to send their children to school, Thany said.

“It’s not that children cannot work, we tell parents that their children can help them in their free time, but otherwise, they should go to school.”

To accomplish their aims, Nath Bunroeun, secretary of state at the ministry, said more schools would be built in rural areas, so parents and children would not be put off by the distance.

Parents who send their children to these schools would not have to pay fees.

With assistance from Danson Cheong

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