In Cambodia, the need is great indeed; at least 60% of Cambodia’s population are under age 30, and less than 38% of adolescents ever enroll in lower secondary school (ESP, 2014). Faced with poor education outcomes, stagnant rural economies, and limited income generation opportunities, many of these youth have no option but to leave their villages in search of whatever work they can find. The Ministry of Planning has reported that about 80% of migrants are under 30 years of age (MoP-CRUMP, 2012 ).

These youth travel to Phnom Penh and other provinces within Cambodia or cross Cambodia’s porous borders to Thailand, and further afield to Malaysia, Japan, Kuwait, Qatar, and South Korea, most often using illegal, irregular and highly risky migration channels. Without the education levels, skills, knowledge, behaviors, and support networks that are necessary to help them stay safe and attain gainful employment, these youth are extremely vulnerable to forced labor, abuse and exploitation, including labor and sex trafficking.

world education, cambodia, youth, migration, labor

World Education’s Approach: Youth On the Move

World Education’s Youth on the Move project works with a variety of stakeholders in Prey Veng, a province near the Vietnam border with high rates of unsafe migration to address the dual problem of the perceived irrelevance of education and unsafe migration, the Youth on the Move project works to reduce the vulnerability of youth by improving their educational experience, giving access to those who cannot afford to attend school, and strengthening the capacity of local institutions to support youth.

Intervention Area 1: Learning, Life Skills and Enhanced School Relevance

Recognizing that the most effective time to reach youth who are vulnerable to unsafe migration is while they are still in school, the Youth on the Move project works to increase the perceived relevance of secondary school education by giving students voice in their schools. Youth on the Move is working with schools to revitalize the student council system while at the same time providing workshops on livelihood skills, safe migration, health and hygiene, information and communications technology, gender equity, and other topics relevant to Cambodian youth.

Revitalizing the Student Council System

Read a summary of World Education’s efforts to revitalize the student council system.

Developing Student Leaders

Arunny is a 9th-grade student who participated in Youth on the Move’s civic engagement leadership training. Read Arunny’s story and meet other student leaders who are building life skills and self confidence.

Intervention Area 2: Access to Education for Vulnerable Students

World Education staff work closely with local communities to ensure that resources for in-kind scholarships such as school supplies and bicycles are distributed fairly, to the most vulnerable.

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Intervention Area 3: Capacity Building, Systems Strengthening, Advocacy and Dissemination

World Education provides training for teachers, school directors, and local education officials to help them address the challenges facing Cambodia’s youth. Youth on the Move project staff coordinate their efforts with central government policies to maximize the sustainability of the project outcomes, and disseminate workshop curricula, student council and club guidelines, and other teaching and learning materials to reach a broader audience.

Intervention Area 4: Technology for Youth Learning and Safety

With mobile phone use and internet access on the rise in Cambodia, World Education has worked to make information on safe migration more accessible to youth.

Accessing Information on Migration and Safety (AIMS) Project

World Education’s AIMS project developed the first ever Khmer-language website, aims.worlded.org, with information on safe migration for vulnerable youth.

Read more about World Education’s use of technology in the Youth on the Move and Accessing Information for Migration and Safety (AIMS) project reports.

 Learn more about the AIMS program, including success stories about those who have benefited the program at worlded.org.

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