Education in Cambodia
During the rule of the Khmer Rouge, lasting from 1975-1979, education in Cambodia experienced a dramatic setback as schools were destroyed and teachers and educators were executed. In the aftermath of this destructive period, Cambodia attempted to rebuild its education system. But today, only about half of school-age children are enrolled.

Cambodian History

The Khmer Rouge, led by Marxist politician Pol Pot, came into power in 1975, when their army took hold of Cambodia’s capital and overthrew the former government. This time in history became known as “Year Zero,” a term derived from the new calendar set in place during the French Revolution. The regime became known for its repressive actions, paranoid ideology, and most importantly, widespread, systematic cruelty.

With the agenda of pursuing an agrarian ideal, the Khmer Rouge led the Cambodian genocide, expelling foreigners, minorities and anyone who resisted the government. The execution grounds — where over a million victims were killed and buried — were called the “killing fields,” and many who toiled in the farms also died from starvation or being overworked.

Intellectuals were seen as dissidents and often specifically targeted, and schools were frequently closed. Children were viewed as blank slates who could easily be manipulated to adhere to Khmer Rouge ideology. After the Khmer Rouge were driven out of Cambodia, the model of education in Cambodia had to be completely recreated from scratch, and schools very slowly began to reemerge in society.

Non-Profit Organizations in Cambodia

Non-profit organizations have helped to support the growth of Cambodia’s children by offering opportunities for education. The organization Tassel acknowledges that the country is still recovering from the trauma of the Khmer Rouge and faces setbacks such as poverty and the challenge of rebuilding itself socially.

Tassel offers children in rural areas free English language education, giving them the skills to read textbooks and sustain jobs later in life. Tassel operates in accordance with its values of compassion and quality, as well as with its volunteer-based structure. The program strives to lift Cambodia out of a darkened past when teachers were persecuted, in hopes of reconstructing the school system.

Programs such as Aziza’s Place, a non-profit learning and development center, enhance the development of underprivileged children in Phnom Penh. Founded in 2007, the organization holds tutoring sessions to support students who have missed school, helping them to gain footing in public schools. Aziza’s Place also provides English language lessons and computer classes, where children can learn to use Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.

In addition, children have the opportunity to study the arts and participate in sports. Other programs such as Tuk Tuk for Children strive to bring children in rural Cambodia education, sanitation and entertainment. Tuk Tuk recognizes that many youngsters have to work to support their families, a reality that can interfere with their academic and social growth.

The organization hosts Tuk Tuk Theatre, which brings children fun activities and informal education on topics such as geography, yoga and sanitation. The group also created Tuk Tuk Mobile Library, a system that circulates books through six different preschools.

Education in Cambodia

The efforts of non-profits such as Tassel, Aziza’s Place and Tuk Tuk for Children have helped to restore vibrancy to the lives of children and provide them with educational opportunities. Cambodia is a country grappling with a harsh history, brought about by the destructive rule of the Khmer Rouge.

Under this regime, the education system was toppled, intellectuals were executed and schools were wiped out. Since this period, the nation has rebuilt its education system entirely from scratch. Organizations that support education in Cambodia have helped to offer the country a new direction in its children’s growth and, hopefully, a brighter future.

– Shira Laucharoen
Photo: Flickr

Facts Pertaining to Poverty in CambodiaMany individuals are unaware of the circumstances in third world countries, Cambodia in particular. The more time people take to familiarize themselves with the culture and community, the more incentive they have to engage in a culturally competent method of understanding the world around them and facts pertaining to poverty in Cambodia.

Living in Rural Areas

Ninety percent of Cambodia’s 4.8 million poor people live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture for their livelihood, but 12 percent of them are landless.”

With the majority of the population relying on cultivation in the area, many people need extra assistance getting the necessary resources for their families. There are a plethora of aspects that need to be taken into consideration when looking for land including landmines, nearest roads and types of facilities in the area.

Exploiting Natural Resources

“Between 2000 and 2012, [Cambodia] lost more than 7 percent of its forest cover, the fifth fastest rate in the world.”

Deforestation and illegal farming practices are part of the reason why the forest cover has been depleting and is one of the facts pertaining to poverty in Cambodia. Increased protection and conservation efforts would lessen deforestation. It would also provide more natural resources to the public, contributing to a wide array of support for poverty-stricken individuals.

Surviving on Minimal Income

“Average annual income is $2.60 per day, with a third of the population living on less than $1 per day. It is one of the poorest countries in the world.”

There are many factors that play a role in Cambodia being one of the poorest countries in the world. Cambodia does not have a stable economy and the majority of people who do work, are paid under the table. This could mean they are paid illegally or through a third party that supplies them with cash for hard labor.

Decreasing Maternal Mortality

“The maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births decreased from 472 in 2005 to 170 in 2014.”

The death of a pregnant woman can be the result of many aspects during childbirth. Cambodia’s dramatic decline in its maternal mortality rate proves that the country is on the right track toward becoming more sanitary. This also shows Cambodia is implementing better health systems to possibly eradicate the issue of mothers dying while giving birth.

Lacking in Education

“More than 50 percent of the population is 25 years old or younger. Most of them don’t receive education higher than the secondary level. This results in a lack of experienced workers and talent who can help with the country’s development.”

Cambodia has recently seen an increase in tourism and the money the government receives from external activities needs to be used to better the education system. A higher quality school system would not only help the development of the country prosper, but also advance job positions for certain individuals. A lack of education is one of the facts about poverty pertaining to Cambodia that could be improved and help make money more accessible, leading to higher incomes throughout the country.

– Matthew McGee

Photo: Flickr