Children's Empowerment Through Education Services (CHES)
Empowerment & Civic Engagement
2007 - 2011
US Dept. of Labor
Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Cambodia
Of Cambodia's total population of 14.3 million, more than 35 percent lived below the poverty line in 2004, with 60 percent working in the agriculture sector. Rural child labor mainly occurs in home-based, subsistence agriculture, and is considered acceptable in Cambodia. However, many children are exposed to hazards such as toxic pesticides, injury from farm equipment and trampling or bites from livestock, heavy lifting, drowning and compromised immune systems because of the combination of malnourishment and exhaustion. According to international labor conventions this hazardous work is a worst form of child labor, and the Royal Government of Cambodia has yet to identify this.
Furthermore, small farm production in Cambodia depends on rain-fed cultivation with no dry-season production – leading many families in rural areas to resort to other forms of labor to supplement incomes. Many of these labors, including fishing, seasonal migration, brick making and salt farming, are hazordous to children.Efforts to improve the quality of education and retention of students in Cambodia, particularly rural education policies, fail to address child labor issues. Virtually no research has documented the causes of school evasion, illiteracy, or poor scholastic performance, nor has any analysis addressed the linkages between school and child labor or how education can better address the needs of children affected by child labor.
A major contributing factor to child labor in rural areas is inadequate educational facilities and services. Cambodia's education system faces a shortage of approximately 11,000 teachers and unequal distribution of schools. Even where primary schools exist, many do not have the complete range of grades one through six. When child laborers do have adequate access to schools, the majority of them continue to attend school part-time while working between 15 to 34 hours a week. Part-time attendance, however, is not sufficient for a student to complete a grade level or be promoted to the next grade.
- Withdraw or prevent children in Cambodia from involvement in exploitive child labor through the provision of direct educational services, including training services.
- Strengthen Cambodian policies on child labor and education, the capacity of Cambodian institutions to combat child labor, and formal and transitional Cambodian education systems that encourage children engaged in or at-risk of engaging in exploitive labor to attend school.
- Raise awareness in Cambodia of the importance of education for all children and mobilize a wide array of actors to improve and expand Cambodian education infrastructures.
- Support research and the collection of reliable data on child labor in Cambodia.
- Ensure the long-term sustainability of these efforts.
Over four years, the Children's Empowerment through Education Services: Eliminating Worst Forms of Child Labor in Cambodia Project (CHES) will withdraw and prevent children from hazardous child labor in subsistence and commercial agriculture in 150 villages in Siem Reap, Pursat, Kampong Cham and Prey Veng provinces. By targeting rural agricultural communities, which are both employers of children and source areas for urban or international migration, CHES will also prevent other hazardous and worst forms of child labor: domestic labor, trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation, brick making and portering. Winrock International will implement the CHES Project in partnership with Wathnakpheap, the Healthcare Center for Children, and the International Labor Organization – International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour. Beyond providing direct services to victims and at-risk children and supporting government and community efforts to address child labor and education issues, CHES will implement a variety of activities to increase public awareness of these issues and support research and data collection on child labor in Cambodia. Child-led awareness campaigns and parent school awareness days will increase public knowledge of child labor. CHES will also collaborate on the establishment of six new schools in areas with high incidences of child labor in agriculture. In addition, CHES will research and provide the Royal Government of Cambodia with data on the incidence of child labor in the freshwater fishing sector and the tobacco and cassava production sectors. As a result of the CHES project, 3,750 children will be withdrawn from child labor, 4,500 will be prevented from child labor, and government and civil institutions at all levels will be strengthened to address this critical issue./P>
The project is on its third year of implementation. It is currently implemented in the 4 provinces of Pursat, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Prey Veng, covering 12 districts, 32 communes and 160 villages. The project has:
- Enrolled 8,323 children engaged in or at-risk of child labor in various educational programs, surpassing the target for enrolment;
- Prevented 4,965 children from hazardous labor and withdrawn 2,918 from it;
Facilitated the children's completion of their two-year educational program (a total of 2,278 children enrolled in 2008 completed these programs);
- Trained 160 teachers from government schools and 46 child care mothers to provide re-entry classes, non-formal education and child care services;
- Organized inter-agency Provincial Child Labor Committees (PCCLs) in two provinces to facilitate networking in monitoring and implementing child labor-related activities;
- Trained PCCLs, child labor inspectors, commune police, commune council and project associates in child labor inspection to increase awareness and capacity to implement child labor laws and local regulations;
- Formed 160 child labor monitoring committees (CLMC) with a total of 895 members to undertake monitoring of children's education and labor status, provide counseling and referral services for those most at risk;
- Trained 66 child youth clubs, consisting of 1,387 members, to work with CLMCs in monitoring children;
- Developed awareness-raising materials on education and child labor; organized regular events such as World Day Against Child Labor; and produced regular e-newsletters and a one-hour radio phone-in program addressing various child labor and education topics;
- Completed research consisting of a baseline study on subsistence agriculture and a study on cassava and tobacco production;
- Trained 325 youths in various livelihood skills (nine are employed and 214 have started their own businesses);
- Trained 1,145 parents in chicken-raising and provided follow-up support in improved chicken-raising with support from the Department of Agriculture; and
- Set up agricultural improvement activities such as demonstration plots in fruit-trees and compost-making.