The Ministry of Rural Development is organising a competition on “Clean Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” (WASH) for grade 12 students from both public and private schools to raise awareness on the issue. The first place winner will receive a 100 per cent tuition paid scholarship and a three million riel ($750) award.

The WASH contest is organised in collaboration with International University (IU) and the NGO Water Aid Cambodia, aiming to encourage students to discuss and take part in efforts to improve health and community hygiene methods in educational institutions through study and research, while providing opportunities for youths to show their ability to speak in public.

According to a joint press release, the competition is divided regionally, including a “coastal” region that includes Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk and Kampong Speu provinces and a Tonle Sap region with Battambang, Pursat, Siem Reap, Pailin, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Thom provinces.

The central lowlands region includes Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kandal, Phnom Penh, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces and the northeast region includes Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces.

The first place winner will receive a 100 per cent scholarship with three million riel; the second placed will get an 80 per cent scholarship with two million riel; and the third and fourth place winners will receive a 70 per cent scholarship with one million riel.

For those who place highly in their group but do not win a top placing, some will receive 600,000 riel and a 50 per cent scholarship.

The scholarships will be offered in four majors: rural development, sanitation and hygiene, community health and environmental health.

The deadline for the application is August 19. Candidates need to form into group of three members and recognised by their school management committee. Each school may have more than one group join the competition.

The competition is divided into three stages. The first is writing on the topic of “hygiene and water as the foundation of health development”. The announcement for the first stage results of the writing competition will be on September 1.

In the second stage, the groups that passed the essay writing competition will do regional WASH presentations on September 16.

Each group has to prepare a presentation in whatever manner they prefer, which could be a slide show using a computer, drawing large posters or using various tools and materials according to their own creative ideas, but they should involve some visual element.

The presentations should be no more than 30 minutes or 20 minutes for the presentation and 10 minutes for a question and answer session.

Three groups will be selected from each region for the national competition.

In the third stage, the winners of the presentation competition will take part in a national debate competition on September 23 at the rural development ministry, which will be broadcast live on IU’s Facebook page. The first, second and third place winners will be selected afterwards.