Major Area: Policy, Advocacy and Partnerships for Children’s Rights
Sub Area: Basic Education and Gender Equality
Cambodia’s history of conflict coupled with persistent rates of poverty, has presented significant challenges to improving the standard of living and protecting the rights of its children. However, economic expansion and investment in social sectors have brought some improvements in child health-related indicators. For example, the under-5 mortality rate has decreased from 124 to 54 per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2010 (Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey: CDHS, 2010). While there have been improvements, serious threats to child survival remain. Malnutrition among children under five continues to be a challenge, and has not improved much in the past five years; 40 per cent of children are stunted and 11 per cent were wasted in 2010, compared to 43 and 8 percent respectively, in 2005 (CDHS, 2005/2010).
The enrollment rate for Early Childhood Education (ECE) services has been relatively low with 32 per cent of children aged five, and 9 per cent of children aged three to four, enrolled in any preschool services in 2008/2009 (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport: MoEYS, 2008). Children from the poorest families, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities are the most disadvantaged in terms of access to ECE. For instance, in the provinces that are predominantly occupied by ethnic minority groups, the ECE enrollment rate in the 2008/2009 school year was as low as 12 per cent for children aged three to five years (Ratanakiri province), whereas in other provinces, up to 40 per cent of children were enrolled (Stung Treng province). Reliable statistics on children with disabilities do not yet exist and the first inclusive preschools were just opened in October 2011. In order to address these challenges, the RGC set out the ECCD Programme to mobilize multiple sectors to improve health, nutrition, early learning and community participation to provide comprehensive services to young children.
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