In a poor Cambodian home, girls are less likely to get the chance to obtain educational support in the family. If there are few members to be sent to school, girls are the last choice. There are a number of reasons for this which includes cultural constraints and traditions, poverty, lack of parental or community and governmental support.
First, poverty is one factor that impedes education of women in Cambodia. Thirty percent of female sex workers are under 18 and have little to no schooling. Without educational avenues to escape poverty, girls often have few options and are vulnerable to sex trafficking. Another factor is cultural constraints. In an article published in World News on July 20, 2018, traditional expectations still limit women’s learning opportunities. To answer this, the Asia Foundation, provides undergraduate scholarships for women in Cambodia; offers legal support for sex trafficking victims. Since 2013, it has engaged 325 female community representatives in networking events, working toward its stated goal of women “sharing common concerns and identifying strategic solutions to local governance challenges.”
Second, women in rural areas have less opportunity to receive further education. They often face increased difficulty pursuing education. Besides needing to work for money, the distance from school can also prevent girls from attending them. Many Cambodian women face this problem. According to the World Bank, approximately seventy-nine percent of the Cambodian population lived in rural areas in 2016. According to UNICEF, the majority of girls living in rural communities drop out of school due to severe poverty and end up caring for younger siblings, work alongside their parents in the rice fields, or travel to urban centers to find work in factories. To help ease the problems, many charities focus on education at a secondary level to keep kids in school.
Third, scholarships are still limited. According to UNICEF, scholarships are the most helpful tool for the growth of girls’ education in Cambodia. The gross enrollment rate of women in upper secondary school increased with ministry scholarships for women, prioritizing female dormitories, and increased funding for secondary education in local schools. In the 2002-2003 school year, the ratio of female students to male students was about 0.5:1, but by 2013, it had risen to an almost 1:1 ratio. Scholarships also allow women already accepted to school to afford enrollment. The World Bank Group alone provides about 1,000 scholarships a year.
Women also have to do the house chores even though they have to go out to work as breadwinners in the family. The business in life also pushes their study and confidence to an end. A 2001 Heinrich Böll Foundation case study of female commune leaders in the Kratie province found that increasing women’s self-confidence led to them being more active in their communities. Educating women on how to deal with crises created community trust in their abilities and allowed the women to expand their roles from the domestic sphere.
Sponsors from UNICEF, the Asia Foundation, World Bank, and the government are hoping for the rate of women pursuing more education to rise, with a focus on keeping girls in school to reach high school. Solutions that have helped improve girls’ education in Cambodia continue to improve until today, but there is room for further growth.
-By Sochna Noeu
Reference: Gay, G. (2018, July). Facts About Girls’ Education in Cambodia Illustrate Its Progress. BORGEN Magazine. Retrieved from