CAMBODIA: Don Bosco Helping More Than 4,100 Youth Stay in School This Year
(MissionNewswire) Cambodia’s long history of violence has resulted in a quarter of Cambodians living in poverty and surviving on less than $1 per day, according to the World Bank. About 80 percent of the country’s population resides in rural areas and has the most limited access to education, healthcare and other public services.
Today, close to a quarter of Cambodians over the age of 15 are illiterate. With very little access to education, poor youth find it especially challenging to break the cycle of poverty. To provide youth with greater opportunity, Salesians in the country operate 45 schools in poor, rural villages through a partnership with Salesian Missions and the Ministry of Education. In addition, Salesians operate seven vocational training centers that provide much needed job skills.
In a country where less than half of children finish primary school, more than 50,000 children have received the encouragement and support needed to complete elementary education through the Don Bosco Children Fund since its inception in 1992. This year, more than 4,100 students will receive support from the Fund during the 2013-2014 school year.
The Don Bosco Children Fund assists poor youth between the ages of six and 15 who are either unable to go to school or have had to drop out due to poverty. Through the fund’s program, youth not only receive support to continue their education, they also receive a monthly assistance package consisting of goods and cash. Social workers ensure that youth make progress and remain in school and those with special aptitude are further supported and encouraged to pursue college coursework.
“Many parents did not have the same opportunities for education as their children do today so they do not see staying in school as a priority, particularly when many children have been forced to work to bring in extra money for the family,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth need the extra support to stay in school and get an education. The Salesians at Don Bosco Children Fund provide that much needed support and stability to help youth achieve.”
The Don Bosco Children Fund also operates both a primary and secondary school in Battambang with a focus on making sure young girls have access to education. In Cambodia, education for girls opens doors to opportunities. With even a basic education, girls are better equipped to face the daily dangers of human trafficking, child prostitution and substance abuse. Today, more than 2,000 girls who live in poverty have access to basic education and continued vocational and technical training and the possibilities of jobs and independence are within reach. Hundreds of students at four specialized schools for young women are opening new doors for themselves with skills in printing, electronics, secretarial skills and sewing.
“Every student has the incredible potential to continue their studies and become leaders in Cambodia and later work to make sure that education can be available and accessible to all. Not only is education about learning to read and write; it provides a foundation for a career and a secure livelihood. Through Don Bosco Children Fund, there is hope for these students and for their families,” adds Fr. Hyde.
World Bank – Cambodia