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Educate A Child Back to School

Mon 12 Dec 2016 | |

© CCOSC/AEA 2016

In Cambodia, thousands of children are missing out on an education because of poverty and other factors, putting their future at risk. But a partnership with a charity supported by EAC is letting them return to class.


“I want to be a policeman when I grow up,” declares Samnang*, a 12-year-old with an infectious smile, sitting in front of a blackboard.


Samnang has dreams. But it hasn’t always been this way. The grade six student from Trach village in Kampong Thom province, central Cambodia, comes from a poor family and had missed two out of six days of lessons in 2015 – more than half the school year.


Sadly, many other children in the southeast Asian country are forced to skip class due to reasons out of their control, including poverty, ethnicity, disability and location. Nearly 20 per cent have never enrolled in formal education, according to 2015 research from the Cambodian Consortium for Out of School Children (CCOSC) program.


Samnang was forced to stay away from school to care for his sick mother and fish to earn money for the family.

“After I was absent I was afraid to come back because I didn’t know what the teachers would say,” he says.

Then Mao Oun, a volunteer remedial teacher working with Youth Star, an organisation funded by international non-government organization Aide et Action (AEA), spoke to his parents.

Having been forced to leave school at grade three himself, Samnang’s father, retiree Kong Chhuon, knew the importance of getting an education.


“I was concerned about his future,” says Kong, 58, who has seven children.

Mon regularly visited the family and convinced them to support Samnang to return to his studies if he received scholarship support and learning materials through the CCOSC program.

Samnang is now receiving remedial lessons and catching up on his studies.

Heng Sonoeu, who is the director of Trach primary and also teaches Samnang, has noticed a remarkable difference in the boy since he’s returned to school.

“Samnang was shy before but now he’s brave and speaks in class,” says Heng.

“His knowledge has also increased.”

Before, Samnang “couldn’t spell but now he’s much better,” adds Mao.

 There are at least 40 students at the school who are missing lessons, says Heng.

She hopes to see many familiar faces back in the classroom soon thanks to a partnership between EAC and AEA, which will allow nearly 60,000 children who are out of school in Cambodia to enrol and complete their primary education by the end of 2017.

Just over 40,000 children have already returned to their studies thanks to EAC’s support.


Some 20,000 are receiving cash and learning materials through the CCOSC program. It is being carried out by AEA with 20 other organisations in Cambodia.

Today Samnang boasts he has four best friends at school. He also loves Khmer lessons and this is his favourite subject.

 “Getting an education means you can have a brighter future and find a job,” he says.


*Samnang is pseudonyms in accordance with AEA Child protection policy.