The 24th January has been declared as the International Day of Education by the United Nations. This day is a part of promoting the number 4 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. Not only does this day promote a significant goal to be worked towards, it also celebrates the incredible impact and importance of education. For development, education is such a powerful tool where it has the ability to progress health and hygiene, earning potential, employment opportunities, political stability and human rights. Education in itself, is a human right which should be celebrated and accessible to everyone. However, this is not the reality and there are numerous challenges in which people face all over the world and here in Cambodia.
Whilst great progress can be seen in Cambodia’s education, especially for children with primary school enrollment increasing from 82% in 1997 to over 97% in 2018, there are still numerous issues to be overcome. This leap in enrollment is an amazing achievement for Cambodia and is something to be commended, albeit there is still work to be done on the standard of education. Currently only 27% of children aged 3-5 are developmentally on track with literacy and numeracy skills, this low rate impacts their educational experience and future prospects. Once students have reached the age of 17, 55% will have dropped out of school. These numbers demonstrate how Cambodian students are falling behind in their learning, this is the reality here due to; the lack of infrastructure and trained teachers resulting in a poor quality of education, irregular attendance and it being an unaffordable expense for families – especially for those from rural and poor backgrounds.
These figures are why we work here in Cambodia and aim to help towards the number 4 SDG. Every day we work hard with our volunteers to provide a good standard of education, in order to help our students open up their futures and empower themselves. The students we work with come from diverse backgrounds where education is not an expense that can be spared, making the work we do with our partners here in Kampong Cham imperative. We primarily work in English, because as a language it has the power to open up opportunities and break the poverty cycle. All classes are provided for free, ensuring that we are reaching those in need and that education is accessible to everyone – as demonstrated by our range of classes from working with monks in a pagoda, to children in drop in centres, young girls from a remote village and teachers employed by our partners BSDA. Every lesson has a lot of passion, hard work and love go into it – where we train our volunteers with TEFL and classroom skills as well as coming together to create the best lesson plans for our students to be able to reach their full potential.
Here at the GVI Cambodia base, the International Day of Education highlights what we’re passionate about as well as what we are working towards every single day. It acts as an important reminder that education can be taken for granted by so many, myself included, where we have moaned about going into school despite the fact it is free and available for everyone – whereas in Cambodia there are children that dream of such opportunity. We are going to celebrate the day by continuing with our efforts to create a sustainable improvement in education quality and accessibility. And if you’re wondering how to celebrate or show your support for the International Day of Education please follow these links to our fundraisers which are still active, where you can help towards a counselling room renovation or providing young girls with laptops to gain much needed IT skills: