A campaign to encourage out-of-school students to return to the classroom has been launched in Siem Reap province, as part of an initiative by Kampuchea Action to Promote Education (KAPE).

The campaign was rolled out at Muk Pen Primary School in Puok district’s Muk Pen commune on September 1.

According to a statement by KAPE, the Fisherfolk Making the Circular Economy Work for the western Tonle Sap Lake project (FOSTER), organised the back-to-school campaign.

It seeks to advocate for the rights of children and motivate out-of-school students to rejoin the educational system.

The campaign also focuses on the teaching the significance of education within communities, families, and local authorities.

“This campaign aims to identify and reach out to out-of-school children, educate stakeholders about children’s rights, promote children’s rights, protect them from all forms of abuse, and stress the importance of education within the community,” added the statement.

Chheng Vanna, a member of the Muk Pen school management team, offered his support to the project.

“This campaign brings together the school committee, the community, teachers, students, and local authorities to discuss the value of education,” he said.

“It encourages families to actively support their children’s education and raises awareness among stakeholders about the school development process,” he added.

Ly Bunna, the director of the Siem Reap provincial department of education, endorsed the campaign due to the high dropout rates among children in remote areas and along the Tonle Sap Lake.

He noted that encouraging students to return to school aligns with the provincial education department’s objectives.

“While partner organisations play a role in this effort, encouraging students who have dropped out of school to return requires consistent support from school management, the community, and authorities,” he added.

Bunna also stressed the need to investigate the reasons for students dropping out of school.

During the campaign’s implementation, in Sotr Nikum district, authorities identified a group of students who regularly skipped school to play games on their phones, smoke, and drink.

“This campaign is not limited to Sotr Nikum district, but will extend to all other schools throughout Siem Reap province. All members of school management and teachers must remain vigilant in monitoring students,” said Bunna.