Street to School - Supporting the Children of Andong Slum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Project location: Cambodia, Phnom Penh
Project start date: December 2012 - Project end date: November 2014
Project number: 2012-026
Beneficiary: Centro Italiano Aiuti all’Infanzia


The project aims at empowering children in situations of extreme economic and social hardship through the protection of their right to education and health.

The context
With a large increase in economic welfare in recent years, Cambodia has enjoyed a stable growth of 9 % annually. However, not all Cambodian people are benefiting from such growth. A series of reports released by the LICADHO Cambodia and British Oxfam show that there has been serious violation of human right related to land eviction cases in the country with approximately 10% of her population have been victimized nationwide.

Phnom Penh counts at least 150.000 evicted persons, many of them living in the slums surrounding the city without proper access to mainstreaming services. According to LICHADO, in 2006 more than 1.000 families from Sambok Chap village, in inner city Phnom Penh, were forced onto trucks and taken to be dumped in an open field at Andong, 22 km from central Phnom Penh. With no choice but to live there, the evictees started to build simple houses, hut and shacks.

Andong is a slum where more than 1500 families (number change in function of the source, around a 5,000 persons) have being forced to live in an unsuitable piece of land to receive them. The most part of the population came to live in Andong when evicted by their house in Phnom Penh. The main characteristic of the Andong (Phnom Penh Province, Cambodia) slum functioning is the lack of social and economic interrelation between itself and the confining villages due to factors that are common to all environments where slums arise. People living in slums face obvious deprivation of resources and assets. They are denied the right to adequate housing and are excluded from basic services such as safe water, sanitation, health and education. They also face high levels of insecurity due to the fact that they have been forcibly evicted with little or no warning. Access to justice is routinely denied because of discrimination and whole communities are marginalized. In Cambodia furthermore, marginalized persons have little or no trust in the judicial system due to the high levels of corruption relieved in the public administration. There also persists the lack of community participation in the decision making process.

Assessment of problems in Andong

After the assessment done the situation in Andong slum is as follows:
• The evicted families found an empty muddy field without houses or shelters, sewage system, clean water supply, electricity, access to the road, schools, clinics and market.
• Most part of the population feels insecure of land tenure, abandoned and destabilized and so the slum has not yet started an autonomous path for a socio-economic developing. Indeed the main economic activities in the area are funded by international NGOs and, by definition, non-permanents.
• Unemployment rate in the area is higher than in Phnom Penh. Moreover the working population suffers from the distance from Andong to Phnom Penh (more than 20 Km) that represents a burden for families moving to Phnom Penh to work. This burden is not only economical. Family members are compelled to spend all day far away of their home and their children.
• The schools located in the area receive less attention than schools located in Phnom Penh or other province capitals (despite the closeness to Phnom Penh). Teachers are less committed and infrastructures are less adequate and friendly. Family and children are conscious of the situation and easily lose their engagement to education.
• Another problem comes from the poor health condition of people living in the slum. The population uses unclean water as well as vegetable and meat. Children and adults from the slum are found sick in regular basis compare to villages around because of low hygiene practice and food consumption. The health situation is worsened by the high cost of medicines and transportation (the slum doesn't have a hospital).
• The family situation (lack of job and perspectives) directly affected the day-to-day living of children that experience limited access to education, high rate of drop out from school, poor school results, weak support from family, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and exploitation.

As per beneficiaries of the project, the main problems assessed are:
- High rate of drop out, low quality of the education, health, and habitation services in the slum within the 150 Children (2 to 16 years old) living in the target community. Drop out children have to take care of the house, go to pick up garbage, have late registration, and some families do not motivate their children to school, there are a lot of domestic violence, drug abuse or sexual trafficking, and gambling in communities that affect them.
- Jobless, domestic violence, sexual trafficking, alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling within the 100 Families of children attending the centre:
- Poverty, lack of food, water and material, health problem, no transportation, domestic violence and unhealthy environment between the 1554 families and 5000 community members living in the project area.

In the slum of Andong, all the problems are very pressing, but NGOs are addressing different problems as per their field of expertise. CIAI priority has always been the promotion and protection of children's rights and children's empowerment. In Cambodia CIAI is working with local institutions and organizations wishing to promote and give effect to these rights, concentrated mainly in supporting disadvantaged children and their families. CIAI is present in Andong since the 2007, with a Pilot Street to School program offering the services of kindergarten, classes to facilitate the school attendance of children at risk who cannot study at home, giving some trainings for the teachers, organising recreational activities, and offering a basic nurse consultation once a month.
The pilot experience has been evaluated as positive and a reinforcement of the activities is necessary to keep giving support to the street children and their families.
In particular, the project will reach the most marginalized children, to fight the phenomenon of street and out of school children, promoting education and good health of all, following the United nations and UNICEF human - rights based approach. Taking as overall objective the scope to guarantee the children right to education as established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC art. 28 and 29) in Cambodia, the project will focus on strengthening the Children's capacities to act as rights holders and to fullest develop their personality. A sustainable development of the community needs children that effectively hold their rights. In fact, getting children into schools is not enough; it is no guarantee of an education that enables individuals to achieve their economic and social objectives and to acquire the skills, knowledge, values and attitudes that bring about responsible and active citizenship.

In consequence, the specific objective of the project is to empower children living in the slum of Andong, Phonm Penh (Cambodia), to act as rights holders, assuring the development of their personality, talents, mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.
The project will support Andong community development addressing the following sectors (as detailed in the following pages):
- Education, primary and secondary;
- Health, cure and prevention;
- Child rights and family support.

The project will improve the educational opportunities for children living in Andong slum and surrounding villages.
Increased number of children will have access to quality education through:
• Strong emphasis on promoting access to basic education; including infrastructure development, scholarships, and the abolition of school fees.
• Provision of textbooks, teacher education, and remedial support for slow learners.
• Increased emphasis of the teaching-learning process and the relevance of education to children's lives and creative development.

The project will follow the human rights-based and participative approach, to assure to every child right to education that respects and promotes the children optimum development.
Inside the project the following services will be articulated:
1. Kinder garden service (2 to 5 years old children) classes held on daily basis will carry on pre-math and pre-writing classes in order to facilitate the achievement of good results in primary school, thus contributing to maintain the primary school survival rates at the secondary levels. At the same time it will allow the mothers to work or do other activities without leaving the children alone or in a non-safe situations.
Teachers and animators will be conducting different activities to encourage children to express their talents, abilities, etc. (art. 28 and 29 Children Rights Convention). The kinder-garden won't be only a safe-place to spend time for children (when parents are working) but a "learning environment".
2. Tutorial and Support / tuition / remedial classes for children needed of reinforcement in specific matters, or facing difficulties in the school. The tutorial and support classes provide refresher training every day for some students who are slow learners or dropped out of school for a short time.
3. Drop outs assistance - Bridge courses, reinforcement classes for children who have left school, to reassert the grade corresponding. Through the collaboration with local authorities will be assured the school reintegration of drop-out students. The previous experience of CIAI ( through children support and the Child Friendly School Development Project) has shown that if duly supported through remedial classes on one hand and family encouragement on the other, drop-out students, are successfully integrated in the public school system.
The reduction of the school dropout needs an on-time assistance. Children who left school for more than a month have difficulties to finish the school year with the others and with good results. When a drop out case is detected, the support team will immediately act counselling the family and proposing support classes.
4. Recreational and cultural activities - Special attention will be paid to recreational and cultural activities, considered as very important for the wellbeing and development of children capacities.
During these classes teachers will provide education to all the children to improve their writing letter, drawing picture, being brave to get experiences from each other. Teachers and animators will help children to learn by doing and playing.
5. Follow up of children in Public Schools. The Social Worker Support Team will conduct, on a regular basis, the follow up of student and public schools. Special attention will be dedicated to the opinion expressed by the children.
6. Parents meetings and group counselling - to increase the community participation and ownership of the centre (functioning, management and decision making), as well as to reinforce the social networks and solidarity between the families. The development of the fullest children potential needs the parent's participation. The centre will be an extension of the house, a child friendly back yard where play and express themselves. Through the family - at the centre - counselling the house will be an extension of the Centre.

The project will contribute to improve the family health status, through prevention and better access to health care services.
Following the human rights - based approach, the project will do special emphasis on ensuring that health systems are made accessible to all, empowering poor people, ensuring their participation in decision-making processes which concern them and incorporating accountability mechanisms which they can access.
The unhealthiest environment of Andong is one of the main problems affecting the population. According to a March 2008 water and sanitation analysis done by Future Cambodia Fund NGO in 2008 there was no source of drinkable water available to Andong residents. All onsite wells were contaminated with bacteria and unacceptably high levels of mineral and heavy metal content. Only two communal latrines were functioning in Andong, but were heavily soiled.
Most common health problems for residents include malnutrition, typhoid, dengue fever, hepatitis A or B, hypertension, respiratory tract infections, gastro-intestinal illnesses including stress-related ulcers, depression and anger management problems. There is a high rate of miscarriage, haemorrhaging and anaemia due to a lack of care for pregnant women.

The main activities proposed are as follow:
1. Children follow up, weekly, in Medical Ambulatory and Referral to specialized centres. The children involved in the project will be followed by medical staff (a nurse) who will also be in charge of conducting awareness campaign on hygiene related issues. The centre, through the ambulatory free consultation service, will give services to adults and children of the area, in collaboration with medical ONG and public / private services. The organization will provide the basic medicines when necessary.
In specific cases, and when the family is unable to bear the costs, the project will cover the medical fees of children in public health facilities or private centres, if necessary.

2. Awareness and counselling on diseases prevention. In addition to the supply of health services the project will provide health information, education and counselling in hygiene, nutrition, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, good practices, etc. will be conducted in association with the local authority of Andong. A wide range of topic of above subject will be covered, particularly covering the common disease prevention (infections, contagious disease, STD etc.) with more impact in women and children mortality and development.
3. Child rights health awareness campaign in the community, a Non-discrimination awareness campaign (disabilities and equal opportunities) for children and families.

The project will empower the children of Andong as rights holders, increasing the self-confidence into their family and community environment.
The right to optimum development implies the right to education and health during early childhood, with systematic and quality family involvement.
Parents and other caregivers have key responsibilities in supporting and facilitating children's access to education, they have obligations in respect of children's rights, and are vital partners in their children's continuing education.

The activities to be implemented are:
1. Family counselling trough social workers. The social workers (2) will conduct regularly visits to the families and they will promote family networking to stimulate families to find help in the community resource (social capital). A special regard will be dedicated to the relationship between relatives and children.
For the family counselling team will be realized an ad hoc training session at the beginning of the Project.
A crosscutting attention in all the project activities will be involving the children as protagonist of their life.
2. Reference and help to domestic violence cases.
The Centre will offer support in domestic violence cases helping families to find NGOs and agencies working on domestic violence. In other hand, the Centre will act a focal point for these NGOs and agencies to reinforce their presence in the slum of Andong.
3. Family recreation and cultural activities with parents' support and participation.
The project aims to engage the parents/relatives in all the activities carried-on in the project. The parents will be encouraged to act as assistant teachers/animators/cookers/guardian etc.

The expected achievements of this project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation, at the end of the two years, are as follows:
- 150 children are not in the street, but in a safe and controlled environment where they can develop and grow;
- 150 children have access to proper education and health services;
- 150 families have access to services that protect them from harmful situation and are better prepared to follow up their children;
- Community as a whole benefits from proper educational and health services made available to project target group.
The project will produce multiplier effects for the wellbeing of the community by empowering children who are the future adults through the provision of education and health services. The achievement reached through the training of teachers will produce their positive effects in the long term and will empower other children. The families will be empowered to better relate with their children and respect their views which will produce positive effects on the community as a whole.

As per project component, the main expected indicators are:
Education - Children of Andong community have access to education on basis of equal opportunity, and in a friendly environment.
- Children have greater willing in improving their learning.
- Less children aged between 10 and 14 years old abandon school.
- Increased number of children who enrol in school and attend regularly.
Health - Family health status has been improved, through prevention and better access to health care services.
- All children and parents have access to health services when needed and report satisfaction with health support provided.
- Mothers and parents are able to identify all major danger signs related to health problems.
- Reduction of illness related to hygienic behaviours at the end of the project.
- 100% of children with health problems have been referred to specialised services.
- Children of Andong act as rights holders, with self-confidence into their family and community environment.
- Increased number of families taking children views and perspectives into account.
- Children acted as full social actors regardless their physical condition.


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