Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - School resources for disabled scarce

School resources for disabled scarce

Students practise sign language at the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme in Phnom Penh in August
Students practise sign language at the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme in Phnom Penh in August. Hong Menea

School resources for disabled scarce

Kimseang spent much of his childhood enduring harassment and verbal abuse, with teachers and other children dismissing him because of a visual and physical impairment.

“They called me Mr Blind or Mr Stupid. They looked down on me,” the 14-year-old said during the start of a two-day National Forum on Inclusive Education in the capital yesterday.

Kimseang is luckier than most young, disabled Cambodians; a local NGO got in contact with his parents and persuaded him to attend a school where he could learn Braille.

While the kingdom has seen overall access to education improve from a 69 per cent net enrollment rate in 1991 to almost 99 per cent last year, children with disabilities are still too often overlooked, educators at yesterday’s forum said.

“The traditional education system sees children with special needs as a problem … rather than seeing that all children have capacities and abilities,” Sandrine Bouille, project coordinator at Handicap International, said. “Schools are afraid to accept students with disabilities that they think they won’t know how to teach, and parents are afraid their child will be discriminated against and won’t learn.”

Cambodia has very few public schools equipped for students with special needs, and few private alternatives exist.

“The government is not doing enough yet. They’re trying to do more, but you can see even from the finances that NGOs are doing most of the work and the funding,” Phorn Paul, assistant to the executive director at rights group CDMD, said.

NGOs and development partners provided 69 per cent of the Ministry of Education’s 2013 primary school budget, less than one per cent of which was allocated for special needs education, statistics presented by the ministry show.

No one knows what percentage of disabled Cambodian children are being reached by the funding and capacity that does exist.

“It’s difficult to address a problem without a picture of the extent of it,” said Herve Roqueplan, director of Krousar Thmey, an NGO that runs five schools for deaf and visually impaired students.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all