Over 80% of children are now going to primary school, which means Cambodia is on track to achieve its goal for primary education.
Getting all children into school would be an accomplishment in the light of Cambodia’s recent history, which included the extraordinary and tragic attempt by the Khmer Rouge regime to eradicate Cambodia’s existing stock of human capital.
However, the ratio of enrollment in secondary education is only 19% and the quality is far behind the standard. A recent study of basic education in Cambodia conducted by the World Bank concluded that “net enrolment rates are significantly and consistently lower in household surveys than in education management information system (EMIS)…. EMIS data records enrolment rates as close to universal while they are far from universal according to survey data”. This gap requires that serious attention be given to the problem of school dropout and education quality.
Responses of Muslim Aid Cambodia
Muslim Aid believes that education is a vital component of long term development and today’s children are the nation’s future. MAC attempted to support the CMGD 2 and 4 with following three key projects.
I. The Rainbow Family (orphans support).
II. Early Child Care for the vulnerable IDPs.
III. Skills training for children and youths.
Muslim Aid’s aim is to create a better world for tomorrow by investing in young people today. MAC is currently supporting orphans and destitute children through it’s own Raibow Family Child Support Programme in a holistic approach. In this model, an orphan is kept in the mainstream and taken care of by a mother or guardian in a family environment. MA provides them all needed supports focusing bright future. A mentor is deployed for five orphans to coach them in addition to the general schooling and the quality of support and necessary health care.
It’s child education and skills training programmes are
transforming a group of Cambodian future generation as perfect vehicle for sustainable nation’s prospect. From home-based stable income, parents can also send their children school education (CMDG 2) and pay for health services (CMDG 4 – 6).
Principles of Muslim Aid in Supporting the Orphans and Destitute Children
MA believes that nurturing is vital to any child’s development, requiring more than just financial support. The traditional orphan care or the orphanage system isolates the unfortunate parentless child from the mainstream and makes him/her psychologically different or weaker.
The rainbow family scheme is set-up to provide all round development including daily nutritious food intake, healthcare, emotional as well as educational support for both the child and family with donors sponsoring individual child. The child remained with his own closest relative/ guardian’s house and a mentor is deployed for in the village to ensure the supports and to coach them in addition to the general schooling.
MAC staff along with mentors frequently visits the orphans residence and school to encourage them in improving their academic and physical progresses.
A Unique Orphans or Vulnerable Children Support Programme
MAC provides Romisa with education (school fees, and stationary) and helps with various aspects of her life. It pays for books, uniform, food and medical care, as well as trips and extra curricular visits around Cambodia. In grade VIII in school, Romisa says that “without this sponsorship, there would be no money to pay for school and food, nor any trips. My favourite subject is English, and I would like to be a teacher.” Romisa lives with her grandparents and a brother in a small house on the outskirts of Phonm Pehn. She always prays for her sponsor “I wish you success in everything.”
Romisa – age 13
Muslimhim – age 17
In grade 11 at school, Rainbow Family sponsorship has given Muslimhim a hope for bright future he otherwise wouldn’t have had. “It has helped me to buy school materials, learn English, buy food, and go o trips. I am studying hard to become an IT engineer in future.”
Muslimhim lives with his mother in a very small house in the outskirts of Phonm Pehn. “I want to say thank you, and I am praying for the donors to have a good life.” Muslimhim’s mother is also very grateful for having more food in Ramadan and some money to improve her small street-side fry-banana stall.
Failin and his youngest sister Fariza are living with their grand mother in Prek Touch Village, Tonle Bet Commune, Thbong Khmum District, and Kampong Cham Province. His father died of HIV in 2007. Since then, he had to stop going to school as their old grandmother could not afford to pay his school fees and expenses.
MAC adopted Failin in March 2009 and sent him to the public school. Additionally, he also attends a private school for English language from 5.00 pm to 6.00 pm and looking forward for a bright future.
Failin Ary – age ??
Operational Trends of 2008 and 2009
The number of Sponsored Orphans in Cambodia under Rainbow Family project is increasing day by day like other countries. MAC could set a good instance in the country in serving the destitute orphans through this RF programme.
Orphan support services are continuously being improved. It was ensured that each and every child is getting the best benefit out of this programme on time. Regular assessments, communication, monitoring and evaluation are gradually ensuring the effectiveness of this unique programme. For improving the efficiency, close supervision and review of few processes has been put in place.
Now can dream our future
Regular supports for the Rainbow Family Children:
- Daily food and other necessities;
- Books, pen, pencil and school fees;
- School uniform, bag, shoes, and necessary dresses;
- Health check-up and medical attention when needed;
- English language and vocational training, as appropriate;
- Sports, excursions and other extracurricular activates;
- Mentor’s care, staff counseling and mother/ guardian’s care;
- Trust fund, a monthly savings for each child until they complete high-school.
Key Results of MAC Partnership with Mith-Samlanh
- A total of 3,877 (F=3,672) parents in Andong Center were contacted; 44 (F=42) individual parents received non formal education into 298 sessions.
- A total of 12,518 (F=11,542) were contacted; 51 (F=46) individual children’ parents have started skill training in the new production center and home-based production.
- 13 parents received an advanced training on sewing of school uniforms, including training on costs calculations.
- 5 individual parents started a new activity of screen printing;
- A total of 123 cases were opened and managed (109 family cases and 14 individual cases).
- A total of 945 (F=895) were contacted with 44 (F=42) individual parents into 72 sessions on Hygiene and Reproductive Health, STD, HIV/AIDS.
- A total of 22 children (F=12) are studying in kindergarten classes at Kokroka primary school in collaboration with Krousar Yoeung Organization.
- 550 HHs received WASH awareness;
- 20 female started home based production.
- 132 parents received reproductive health education.
Early Child Care and Home-based Production for IDPs
From February 2009, MAC started a year long project in partnership with a local NGO Mith Samlanh for the internally displaced people (IDPs) at Andong relocation site to:
- Provide adult literacy classes, business training and health counseling to the selected families with referring their children to school or vocational training courses;
- Provide a crèche service: early childhood care and market access for families participating in Home Based Production;
- Advocacy and lobby with the Government and particularly with Phnom Penh Municipality.
Story of a HIV positive widow and her five children (Names and photo identity kept anonymous)
I am a 52 years old widow with five children living in the Andong community. I was born in Anchay Meas village, Prey Veng province. To find some work to earn our daily bread, in 1999 my family migrated to Phnom Penh and rented a room in Boding block. I managed a small business (selling gasoline) and my husband became a motor-taxi driver (moto-dop) and a seasonal construction worker. Mixing with few other modo-dops, my husband started drinking a lot of alcohol and got addicted on it, and had many girls too. Most nights he used to become drunk and beat me and the children on returning home. So children were so scared and could not study well. One day my house was burned out of a fire along with many other houses at Boding. Government relocated us to Andong village and sanctioned my family a small plot of land, four meters width and twelve meters length.
In 2006, my husband became very sick. Doctor referred to have blood tested and found HIV positive. Then I had fall into even more burden situation for the whole family including food and medication for my husband. My older daughter had to stop going to school and started working in a garment factory in order to support the family. In 2008 my husband died of AIDS, and in few days I also got sick and had my blood tested HIV positive. I was so depressed and hopeless on how I can take care of my children. Fortunately, in early 2009, Mith Samlanh’s staff visited my family in Andong community and supported me to have ARV medicine free of charge on regular basis and I was engaged in Muslim Aid supported Home Based Production scheme. Since then I have started earning from my home. Four of my children are reintegrated into study at the nearby public school and my older daughter was referred to a vocational training. Now, I regained my mental strength to live with hope for my children and their happy life.
In the decade long post-civil war situation, many Cambodian boys and girls are now completing their high-school or undergraduate education but remain frustrated and less confident for the job market due their poor communication capacity in English and lack of computer skills. Most of them can not afford to pay the fees for developing their English language and computer skills from private institute.
English Language course:
MAC continued it’s initiative to support those Muslim and Non-Muslim youths a year long intensive English language course, free of charge. With hard studying in two-hour long class five days a week for six months, most participating students at Siem Reap and Phnom Penh could dig-up very good result such as got a job or performing better in the present position.
MAC further increased the capacity of computer centre at Phnom Penh and sat-up a new computer training centre at Siem Reap and kept offering free computer training courses in different stages and durations for both youths and children in the year 2008 and 2009.
Embroidery and Tailoring Training:
Considering the necessity of those youths who are not educated or have little education and do not have any skill to engage them in a decent trade to earn their living, MAC concluded the Embroidery and Tailoring Training in 2008 at Kandal and Kampot with many successes.
EYE ON IT
Partnership with CAMSA
MAC made partnership with a local NGO, Cambodian Muslim Students Association (CAMSA) for implementing Computer and English skill training at Phnom Penh and successfully trained around 222 students in 2008 and 2009.
Partnership with SRMCDO
To extend the coverage, MAC made an agreement a newly established local NGO, Seim Reap Muslim Community Development Organization (SRMCDO) and implemented Computer and English skill training around 200 children and youths in 2009.
Partnership with CIWODA
MAC successfully trained around 98 youth boys and girls in 2008 under a partnership agreement with Cambodian Islamic Women Development Association. American Embassy donated the required sewing machines for the training course.
MAC will drive for increasing the number of sponsored children from the current 104 to 250, and the number of mentors from 19 to 35 in few years. It would look for ways of integrating Rainbow Family ‘graduates’ into staffing structure, where potential exists.
Besides the above, MAC will also endeavor to improve the educational environment and quality by initiating few other pilot or short-term interventions.