Of the 15.2 million Cambodian population, 11% are children from 0-6 years of age, 18% of which It is estimated that 32% of children up to 5 years old in the country are malnourished and 50% are subject to physical violence. The consequences of industrialization and the phasing-out of the traditional foster care system bring an increasingly greater degree of vulnerability to families and children. It is, therefore, more paramount than ever to invest in awareness-raising campaigns and the establishment of structures in favor of early childhood development in Cambodia.
The first 6 years of the life of a child are crucial to its development: it is during this period that the foundations for language, locomotion, and emotion management are laid. Everything that happens to the child or not will influence its future development. Therefore, for many years we have been working with our local partner, Krousar Yoeung, other organizations in the sector, and public authorities to grant Cambodian children access to educational facilities and other pedagogical tools necessary for well-rounded development.
In 2010, we created the Center of Resources for Early Childhood (Centre de Ressources de la Petite Enfance, CRPE) in Phnom Penh. Currently, with 11 employees, the center aims to dispense didactic materials and pedagogical support to the actors in Early Childhood training courses: 500 professionals in the sector of Early Childhood will benefit from the resources provided by the center. Henceforth, we aim to professionalize and empower the CRPE to become financially independent from our support.
We have also created more than 100 community preschools and supported the development of new community schools in rural regions. In 2017, 14 schools were established in the region of Kampot in southern Cambodia, which now houses 300 children.
Last but not least, we have provided the impetus for the creation of a Network of Organization of Civil Society (Réseau des Organisations de la Société Civile, NECCD), which introduces a dynamic exchange of information and knowledge between more than 30 actors in Early Childhood.
This year, partnering with the Cambodian government, we have launched a series of pilot nurseries in textile factories. In fact, in Cambodia, where many children are already in vulnerable situations, rapid industrialization has led an increased number of women into the workforce, upsetting the family structure. Female workers in textile factories, withstanding arduous working conditions (long working hours, commute times, and low wage), could not access existing but rare, private and exceedingly expensive nursery. The nurseries in the factories, therefore, aim to assure a protective environment for the children, where they can play and grow while receiving health care, as well as proper nutrition. Situated on work sites with easy access, they allow the mothers to maintain their financial autonomy and practice parenthood in a calmer manner. They will also serve as a place for learning for mother workers who, through sessions of parenthood aid, will learn to how to create nurturing environments for their children.
There still remains much to be done in order to guarantee all young children in Cambodia a nurturing environment for their development, which is why we will continue to develop our project in the following months and years.
Thank you for supporting us in our fight for more equality through the services of Early Childhood!