TANG CHHIN SOTHY/ AFP
A young girl collects cans and bottles for recycling as school children look on during a ceremony to mark World Against Child Labor Day in Phnom Penh on June 12.
Hundreds of school children took to the streets on June 12 to mark World Against Child Labor Day, calling for parents to send their kids to school rather than forcing them to work.
About 500 children marched through the capital carrying placards and banners with slogans such as: "Work is not necessary for children, but schooling is," and "Child labor is unjust for children."
The demonstration was organized by the International Labor Organization with the Cambodian government.
One of the marchers, 15-year-old student Roeun Ra, said his parents used to make him work by scavenging through garbage.
"Many of my friends cannot go to school because their parents ask them to work for money," the boy told AFP.
The World Bank said that last year some 1.5 million Cambodians under the age of 14 were forced to work, often in hazardous conditions.
Chey Chab, undersecretary of state at the ministry of education, told marchers the government was working to prevent the children from being exploited.
"Children are like bamboo shoots and are the (future) strong force for the country," he said in a speech, calling on all people to "take care, protect, and think of the interest of children."