UNICEF in Cambodia has applauded Cambodia’s commitment to advancing children’s rights over the past decade. UNICEF Representative Will Parks addressing a November 17 event in Kratie province which kicked off a three day celebration of World Children’s Day 2023.

UNICEF Cambodia announced its plans to amplify the voices of children and young people as advocates for children’s rights in the country.

“We are here in Kratie to celebrate the potential and promise of children and youth in Cambodia. But today also reminds us of the profound challenges facing children who are affected by escalating conflicts and environmental disasters worldwide,” said Parks, in a press release.

He explained that the event has provided an opportunity to form new partnerships with youth networks, artists, and local authorities, who have all joined forces to raise awareness about child rights. Through the participation – and the inclusion of young people – they collectively benefit from their incredible potential as change-makers for social transformation.

“Over the past decade, Cambodia has demonstrated its commitment to advancing children’s rights. Challenges still exist in the country, and UNICEF is fully committed to addressing these issues, promoting child rights, and enhancing the well-being of the most vulnerable children,” he added.

Khuon Vicheka, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, said on November 19 that the ministry paid close attention to the well being of children.

“Six-year-old children are allowed to enrol in school, and the ministry works closely with communities to encourage them to study,” she said.

She added that school breakfast and lunch programmes have also been implemented, which encourages more students to attend school.

“We have also organised a unique curriculum for ethnic minority students. The programme serves as a bridge for Khmer illiterate children such as Bunong and Charay to study grades 1, 2 and 3 in their mother language. They begin to learn Khmer at the fourth grade,” she explained.

She added that children with intellectual impairments and hearing impaired students were also encouraged to study. The ministry has also helped to raise awareness of children’s rights at private schools.

In a November 17 social media post, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation said that senior officials from the ministry and the Ministry of Environment had also attended the event. The event aimed to celebrate the potential and the success of children and youth in Cambodia.

The ministry said the event featured many highlights, including the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoUs) between the environment ministry and the provincial administrations of Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces. 

They also expanded the “Today I will not use plastic” campaign, and enjoyed traditional dancest, dolphin education, a tree planting and folk games.

Former Prime Minister Hun Sen once described children as an indispensable source of national development. In his rectangular strategy, the government prioritised human resource building.

World Children’s Day is a global day of action for children, by children. The day commemorates the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which took place on 20 November 1989, and which Cambodia ratified in 1992.