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Educate a Child Fulfilling a little girl’s dream

Mon 12 Dec 2016 | |

© CCOSC/AEA 2016

Going to school, something millions of children around the world take for granted, is often just a wish for many in Cambodia. But through a partnership with EAC and one charity, these are coming true.


By the time Srey Neang* reached six years of age, she couldn’t wait to go to school. She wanted to get a good education and become a teacher herself.


But Neang, now 11, who lives in Bram village in Prey Veng province, southern Cambodia, in a tiny house, has impoverished parents who didn’t understand the importance of education. It was another two years before she would begin her studies.

“When I saw my friends going to school I was sad that I could not join them,” says Neang.


Shockingly, nearly 20 per cent in the southeast Asian country have never enrolled in formal education due to reasons out of their control, including poverty, ethnicity, disability and location. according to 2015 research from the Cambodian Consortium for Out of School Children (CCOSC) program. Meanwhile only 29 per cent of caregivers understand the importance of education, they found.


Neang’s older sister would teach her the vowels and consonants at home, where they live with their mother, who is a maid, construction worker father, and other sister. But it wasn’t a proper education.


Then Damnok Toek, a partner of AEA who rescue children struggling to access education, discovered Neang.


They visited her house and spoke to her parents.


When she was eight, Neang finally went to school for the first time.  


She is now catching up on her grade two studies at Neak Loeung Drop-In Center, a temporary place where kids are educated. Children stay there for three years, from grade one to three.


Neang can’t wait to finish her education and still wants to become a teacher, but isn’t ruling out becoming a doctor, either.


“An education can help me become anything I want,” she says.


Thanks to a partnership between EAC and AEA, nearly 60,000 children who are out of school in Cambodia will be able to enrol and finish their primary education by the end of 2017.


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

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


Teacher Nhem Saroeuth, 58, says despite missing two years of school, Neang has shown remarkable resilience.


“She’s always smiling and always comes top of the class in Khmer and maths,” says Nhem.


“She has a great attitude.”


There are about 15 children at the school who were absent but have now been enrolled in studies.


“Some of the parents go to work in the capital Phnom Penh and are forced to leave the children alone,” says Nhem, adding instead of school they work to survive.


She stressed the importance of learning.


“Through education a person can go from doing something bad to doing something good,” she says.


*Srey Neang is pseudonyms in accordance with AEA Child protection policy.