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Creating a Generation of Skilled Youth in Cambodia

In Cambodia 56 per cent of the entire population are under the age of 25. Without enough waged work available in local communities to support Cambodia’s huge youth population, young people often find themselves in risky situations.

Many youth are forced to find jobs in the informal sector that involve bad working conditions and low pay, while others are lured to urban areas in search of better opportunities to support their families. In fact, about 2.5 million young Cambodians are internal migrants.

Access to education plays a big part in livelihoods opportunities for young people. In Kratie province, where ChildFund Cambodia has been working since 2011, only 52 per cent of youth have completed primary school education. Young people have also traditionally been left out of decision-making processes, leaving them without a voice in community decisions that affect them.

ChildFund is working to address these problems by helping to establish youth groups in communities where we work. Through these youth groups, young people receive vocational, life-skills and leadership training. Many have also been supported by ChildFund Cambodia to start up their own small businesses.

Socheet from rural Svay Rieng province was 15 when she was forced to drop out of school to support her family. Like thousands of others she moved to Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, to find work. Though what she found was long hours and low wages at a garment factory.

17-year-old Vichet also left school at 15. He migrated illegally to Thailand to work as a labourer. Now, after returning to his village, re-enrolling in school and becoming a peer educator in his local youth club, Vichet wants to be a role model for others.

“I want to tell youth and children in Cambodia to try to avoid migration, if possible. We are children. We are youth,” says Vichet. “We`re not at the age where we should be earning money. We are at the age where we’re dependent on our parents. We should focus on studies.”

ChildFund Cambodia’s youth projects are supporting young Cambodians to earn an income and create a life for themselves without relocating away from their families and homes. Over the past financial year, 50 youth groups with almost 2,000 members have been established and supported by ChildFund.

These groups are also helping to build the confidence of those like Vichet and Socheet to be the next leaders of their villages, which with the bulk of Cambodia’s population below the age of 25 will make a difference for the entire country in years to come.

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