With one third of its citizens under 15 years of age, Cambodia has one of the youngest populations in Southeast Asia. Today’s five million children have enormous potential to become skilled citizens who can drive Cambodia’s future.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, the country focused on re-establishing its social systems and creating new ones to protect, educate and nurture all Cambodians. Cambodia has come a long way since then, with considerable progress in education, child survival and access to safe water.
Over 97 per cent of girls and boys are enrolled in primary school–more than ever before. Fewer children die before their fifth birthday, with figures down from 124 live births per 1,000 to 35 live births per 1,000 between 2000 and 2014. Access to improved water sources has increased, from 22 per cent in 1990 to 70 per cent in 2017.
But challenges remain and everyday life for the children of Cambodia can be extremely daunting.
Progress has been uneven, with striking differences between rural and urban areas, between children with a disability and children without, and between wealthier and poorer families. These challenges are often made worse by people’s lack of access to, and knowledge about, adequate education, healthcare, water and sanitation.