Helping children living in poverty fulfill their potential through education is one of ChildFund's top priorities in Cambodia, where we have worked since 2007. Education is key in helping children in poverty, and although great strides have been made across Cambodia during the past decade, children living in poverty face many obstacles to attending school. Finishing primary school is one of the most important solutions to poverty that can help a child improve his or her chances of emerging from destitution, but despite the gains made in the past 10 years, this goal remains out of reach for too many Cambodian children.
Approximately 31 percent of Cambodia's population of 14.3 million people live below the poverty line, many of whom reside in rural areas where children don’t have access to education. Primary schools have maintained high enrollments across Cambodia in the past decade, and much progress has been made to close gaps between Cambodian girls and boys, but according to UNICEF, many Cambodian children take 10 years or more to complete primary school due to being held back consistently. Overall, more than half of Cambodian schoolchildren do not complete primary school at all.
Data from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) suggests that effects of poverty on education are detrimental as economic pressures often result in children being forced to drop out of school at both the primary and secondary level. Almost half of families need their children to work in order to supplement household income, and many families simply cannot keep up with academic expenses such as uniforms and school supplies. Without a strong educational foundation, children's chances of emerging from poverty are greatly diminished.
When children are given the opportunity to attend school from an early age, they are much more likely to complete their studies, advance through their grades and graduate successfully. However, in many parts of rural Cambodia, children living in poverty never have this chance.
Approximately 50 percent of children living in the Svay Chrum district of the Svay Rieng province never enroll in kindergarten due to the financial pressures of living in poverty. To address these effects that poverty has on education, we help support kindergarten programs in community-based schools to provide children with the chance to attend and complete kindergarten and progress to primary education.
ChildFund also helped create Child Clubs in 25 primary schools across Svay Rieng province to provide children with the resources they need to enroll and stay in school. These clubs are helping children have the opportunity to engage in music and sports activities, and take advantage of mini-libraries to improve their literacy skills.
We have also supplied thousands of Cambodian children in primary schools with the equipment they need to complete their education. More than 2,000 children were given school uniforms, and 1,300 were provided with supplies including notebooks, mathematical equipment and school bags -- items that would be out of reach for many families.
Thanks to the support of our sponsors and monthly giving partners, ChildFund has accomplished much in Cambodia, but the road ahead is long. We cannot continue to support the education of at-risk Cambodian children without your help.
Our Children's Greatest Needs fund is a great way for you to help children in Cambodia. This program enables you to help ChildFund provide vital resources to children in need, rehabilitate schools and work with local partners to improve access to educational opportunities for children and families living in the world's poorest countries.
Becoming a child sponsor is another way to help a child complete his or her education and work toward the chance of a brighter future. Just $28 per month will make a lasting difference in the life of a child, so please consider sponsoring a child today.