More than 97 percent of children in the Kingdom are enrolled in school and the mortality rate of those under five has dropped by 70 percent since Cambodia signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992.
The achievements were noted in a joint statement last week by representatives of the EU, Unicef, Save the Children, USAID and Child Rights Now during an event in Phnom Penh to mark the 30th anniversary of the convention.
Government officials also participated in the event, which also marked the launch of a three-month nationwide joint campaign by the five groups to accelerate progress toward fulfilling the CRC and translating rights into realities for Cambodian children.
In their statement, the groups said Cambodia ratified CRC on October 15, 1992 and since then has made remarkable progress in improving children’s lives, noting that access to improved water sources has also tripled since 1990.
However, it noted that not every child gets to enjoy a full childhood and too many lives are still cut short, adding that in Cambodia, malnutrition rates are still among the highest in the region.
“Children aren’t achieving the standards of learning needed for their age groups. Protection issues are prevalent with one in four children reporting to have experienced some form of violence,” it said.
Nhep Sopheap, secretary-general of The Cambodia National Council for Children, said at the event that although much progress has been made by the government to improve education, health and social issues, the children’s rights situation still faces some challenges.
“The rights of children is much better now than 30 years ago,” she said. “Children have rights to education, living, good health and social protection but they still face challenges such as violence, rape, trafficking, migration and being in prison with their parent.”
Puth Samith, the Education Ministry director-general of General Education, said it is formulating more polices to provide children with the chance to get an education.
“Early childhood education is very important and the ministry will hold more campaigns to encourage parents to send their children to pre-school,” he noted.
Cristian Munduate, Unicef Representative in Cambodia, said at the event that they are proud to partner with the government to support progress towards the fulfillment of rights of every Cambodian child, noting that the CRC and Sustainable Development Goals go hand-in-hand.
“Children’s rights cannot be realised without the successful implementation of the SDGs and vice versa. Therefore, the convention has never been more relevant than it is today in reaching those children who are so often disadvantaged, excluded and marginalised,” she said.
Elizabeth Pearce, Cambodia Country Director for Save the Children, said the NGO would like to reaffirm strong commitment to upholding child rights in Cambodia through sustained collective efforts and supporting children’s holistic development.
“We applaud the strong collaboration across government ministries, development partners, non-governmental organisations and others to support the realisation of children’s rights in Cambodia,” she said.