Chan Dany, 12, wants to go to school but instead, like too many Cambodian children, has been forced to sell groceries and do housework to provide for the family.
In January, Dany and her mother came to Phnom Penh, where mum barely scrapes by as a domestic worker so she can send remittances back to her family.
“My mum did not have the ability to send me to school because no one helps her to earn money for the family. I did not know anything. I just did what my mother told me to do,” she said.
Dany is among 15.5 million children forced into exploitative labour worldwide, a problem the Ministry of Labour and NGO World Vision announced yesterday they would tackle with a new initiative.
At a conference in Phnom Penh set to coincide with he 12th annual World Day Against Child Labour. they launched EXCEL (Eliminating Exploitative Child Labor through Education and Livelihood), a project aiming to withdraw 28,000 Cambodian children from the labour force over the next four years.
About 4,200 children had been withdrawn from exploitative labour in Cambodia since 2004, though many more remained, Phak Chantha, a secretary of state of Ministry of Labour, told the Post.
“The children must be ensured safety from exploitative labour because it is time for them to go to school,” she said.
With these efforts, the percentage of children who work could be reduced from 16.5 per cent in 1999 to 8 per cent by 2015, the program’s backers say. EXCEL also aims to provide livelihood opportunities to 14,000 vulnerable Cambodian households, enabling them to earn enough to send their children to school.