Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Success of project to get marginalised children into classrooms lauded

Success of project to get marginalised children into classrooms lauded

Plan International’s Andrew Hill shakes hands with Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron at an event in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Plan International’s Andrew Hill shakes hands with Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron at an event in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo supplied

Success of project to get marginalised children into classrooms lauded

Four years ago, a consortium of NGOs in Cambodia identified 57,000 marginalised children who, for various reasons, were not attending school, and put them into classrooms.

Today, more than 90 percent of them are still attending classes, an achievement lauded during the Cambodia Consortium for Out of School Children’s closing conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.

But that achievement comes with uncertainty, as the program’s funding for Phase I has ended, and it is still unclear whether it will receive financial support for a second phase, which seeks to sustain the progress and nearly double the number of new children enrolling in school.

Vorn Samphors, country director for Aide et Action in Cambodia, said more than 20 NGOs pooled 50 percent of the program’s $20 million in funding for Phase I, which was matched by the Educate a Child program of the Education Above All Foundation in Qatar.

“I’m proud of the achievement that we made together,” Samphors said on the sidelines of the conference. “To learn that 93 percent of them, most of them marginalised children . . . remain in school with various support.”

The consortium focused its efforts on identifying children with disabilities, ethnic minorities, poor and remote children, street children and overage children. The 7 percent of students who did not remain in school either passed away, dropped out for migration reasons or simply disappeared from the system, Samphors said.

In remarks at yesterday’s event, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said only around 80 percent of students complete primary school.

But of those 80 percent, Samphors said, many are in school “only by their name”.

“But their bodies, their self, was maybe at the rice field, at the farm somewhere with their parents, or maybe in Thailand,” he said

There are an estimated 250,000 children out of school in Cambodia, he said.

Vong Vuthy, program manager of the Rabbit School Organization, which works with children with disabilities, yesterday expressed concerns over the achievements’ sustainability.

“If we stop the program, without the support of the program, these students will not be able to go to school,” Vuthy said.

Samphors said the consortium in January should find out if it will receive the roughly $12 million it needs from Education Above All, which again will be matched by the NGOs in the consortium.

During Phase II, the aim is to indentify 100,000 new children and enrol them in school. If no funding is approved, the consortium will still carry on, but with limited resources.

“We will still continue in small scale with our own funding, [and] with the partnership from the government, but we may not be able to identify and enrol 100,000 [children],” Samphors said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said