Of Cambodia's 15.2 million people, 11% are children aged 0-6. Of these, only 18% are in preschool, and it is estimated that 32% of the country's children under 5 are malnourished and 50% are physically abused. The consequences of industrialization and the gradual abandonment of traditional childcare systems are leading to an increasing vulnerability of families and children. It is therefore more important than ever to invest in awareness and structures for the development of Cambodian early childhood.
The first 6 years of a child's life are crucial in his development: it is during this period that the following questions arise the basics of language, motor skills and emotional management. Everything that happens or doesn't happen during this period affects his future development.
For many years, we have been working with our local partner, Krousar Yoeung, other associations in the sector and public authorities to provide Cambodian children with access to the educational structures and tools they need to flourish.
In 2010, we have created in Phnom Penh a Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC) which now has 11 employees. Its role is to provide training, educational materials and teaching aids to early childhood actors: 500 early childhood professionals were able to benefit from it. Our goal now is to professionalize and empower the CRPE and make it independent of our financial support.
We have also established over 100 community preschools and support the establishment of new community schools in rural areas. In 2017, 14 such schools were established in the Kampot region of southern Cambodia and now serve 300 children.
Finally, we gave impetus to the creation of a Network of Civil Society Organizations (NECCD) which introduced a dynamic exchange between more than 30 actors of the Early Childhood.
This year we are launching a series of pilot crèches in textile factories in partnership with the Cambodian government.
In fact, in Cambodia, where many children are already in a precarious situation, rapid industrialization has led to the massive entry of women into the workforce and has disrupted family life. The women workers in the textile factories, having to endure harsh living conditions (long hours, long commute and low wages) cannot access the few existing day care centers, which are private and far too expensive. The objective of the factory nurseries is to provide a protective environment in which children can develop and receive proper health care and nutrition. Located in the workplace and easily accessible, they will allow mothers to maintain their financial autonomy and to live their parenthood more serenely. They will also be places of learning for working mothers who, through parenting support sessions, will be able to learn how to make the home a place of fulfillment for their children.
There is still a lot to be done to ensure that all young Cambodian children have a fulfilling environment and development, which is why we will continue to develop our projects in the coming months and years.
Thank you for joining us in our fight for more equality through Early Childhood Services!
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