Cambodia is one of the poorest, most unequal and most problematic countries in terms of human rights protection in Asia. WeWorld has been present in the country since 2009 with programs focused on primary education, child protection, youth employment and safe migration.
Over the past 20 years, Cambodia's population has grown significantly, with 65% of the population under the age of 30. Only a third of adolescents complete secondary education and there is an ever greater need for substantial investments in training and education, the lack of which severely limits the country's economic expansion and generates social problems. Although poverty levels have dropped significantly over the past 10 years and economic growth is about 7% annually, 71% of Cambodians still live on less than $3 a day. Most of the active population is employed in the informal economy or in vulnerable forms of work. This arrangement increases marginalization and leads many people to undertake unsafe migration to seek better opportunities in urban areas or abroad.
Children and young people are among the ones hit the hardest by the current situation. Most of them drop out of school to work and help their parents earn money, mainly to repay debts incurred by financial institutions or private lenders.
We have been active in Cambodia since 2009, where we collaborate with local NGOs on different issues. Over the years, we have expanded our areas of intervention and in 2023 we are working in 7 provinces and 15 departments. The coordination office is located in Phnom Penh and then there are other two offices, one in Mondulkiri Province and one in Siem Reap Province. Furthermore, through partners, we are also present in the provinces of Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Purset and Kampong Chhnang.
In the field of education, we support basic education and we are committed to reducing the phenomenon of school absenteeism of children belonging to the most vulnerable families in rural areas. Through a purpose-built app, we identify students reporting extended absences, academic behavior or performance that puts them at risk of dropping out. We counter these trends through scholarship programs, remedial classes, and home visits. Furthermore, we strengthen the quality of teaching with specific training for teachers and at the same time we distribute school materials, create libraries and guarantee breakfast for children in rural schools. We also work on strengthening the school management system by partnering with principals, student councils, parents councils and the community. By adopting a participatory approach, we create synergies between the different actors involved in the improvement of the educational sector. Inside schools we also deal with child protection, with particular attention to the issue of gender, which remains transversally present in all projects. Since 2020, we have also been working to provide support to young people who are looking for work, with the creation of employment centers that provide useful information on courses, internships and job offers.
In the field of migration, we are currently working with communities and civil society actors to ensure safe migration and to reduce human trafficking incidents. We organize training courses to improve their synergies with local public authorities and thus ensure better management of cases of abuse, trafficking and exploitation. We have also activated awareness campaigns on the issues of labor law, human rights and safe migration. Furthermore, our partners provide legal support to migrants in the event of trafficking or abuse incidents.