Education in Cambodia was catastrophically damaged by the Khmer Rouge regime of the late 1970s with an estimated 90 percent of schools being destroyed. The impacts remain evident today as a result of the fact that nearly an entire generation of children during or in the years following the regime missed out on schooling. This situation can, sadly, be self-fulfilling: if parents have not attended school and have limited financial resources, the likelihood of their children attending school is very low.
Our education programme aims to improve the opportunities of children and young people, with classes commencing at early years and continuing to secondary level; the programme also sees sponsorship for further and higher education through both vocational training and university.
Despite relatively strong economic growth in recent years, significant parts of Cambodia’s population live in conditions of poverty or near-poverty and this is likely to increase due to the impacts of Covid-19. This is of particular relevance in our semi-rural community where the economic benefits of tourism rarely reach. Without a safe home, clean water and sanitation, a caring environment, and adequate food, children may fail to thrive.
Our family support programme aims to address the issues faced by the community by working directly with the families most in need. Our social work team supports families with practical aid in the form of housing repairs and provision and installation of clean water and sanitation systems, through support and advice on health-care services, and by providing food supplies primarily in the form of staples such as rice.
Children with disabilities have been particularly negatively affected by the historical damage to Cambodia’s systems of education, see above. Notwithstanding recent developments and progress in state education, children with disabilities were not recognised in Cambodia’s educational laws until 2007. Many children are isolated and lack specialist care while some are even neglected or abandoned; many continue to be unable to attend state school to achieve even a basic education.
In 2012, we began supporting children with a disability by providing specialist care and therapeutic interventions to enable individuals to achieve their full potential. Over many years, and with the support of specialists, we have developed curricula to meet the needs of students with physical, mental health and intellectual disabilities.