By Emily Martin
Boat for School Children
Cambodia has two seasons – one wet and one dry. Both have their benefits but also bring along their own issues. Life is dramatically affected in the country depending on what season it is.
In the wet season roads turn into rivers and rivers grow enormously in size. It means that transport and accessibility is greatly affected. A journey that might have once taken 10 minutes in the dry season can suddenly take hours. Some places are no longer able to be reached.
BAK ROTES Village is located in the Battambang province and when the rainy season hits, a river near the village swells in size – making it impossible for the children to access school.
The Social Support team from Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPSA) learnt about this issue and collaborated with Mr. James Farley, technical advisor of Friends International NGO, to see what could be done to help.
PPSA social workers visited the village in 2014, talking with the children, commune chief, village chief, villagers and parents in order to find out more about the situation. They made a needs assessment of children in the village as to their biggest, daily challenges – with the purpose of being able to help alleviate them. After assessment, the team found 68 children drop out of school each year because of lack of access to school during the wet season.
The PPSA team developed an action plan and budget to tackle the issue. They were able to purchase a boat with $1400 USD contributed by some visitors from Iherb who wanted to help after learning about the situation.
A boat management committee in the village was set up in order to oversee and coordinate the running of the school boat. The committee includes the commune chief, the village chief, the parent representative, the school director and PPSA staff. A local boat driver was also hired and a low fee for the use of the boat was agreed on between the parents and the boat committee.
The impact of developing this transport system has been incredibly positive. The children in the village can now access their school and therefore have an education throughout the entire year!
In addition to this boat service the Social Support team contributed 50 school kits to 50 of the poorest families with children attending the school.
Responsibility for running the school boat service had now been formally handed over to the community, though PPSA will continue to follow up and monitor both school attendance and the functioning of the boat service during 2015.
They are hoping to see a decrease in the high drop-out rate for the school and see more students studying for longer, improving their education.
Read about another community based project, Migra-safe, which Phare Ponleu Selpak is involved with – educating Villagers about safe migration.
View our Social Mission to see how Phare, The Cambodian Circus helps supports projects like this.
The first time I ever visited a floating village (Kompong Phluk), it was really striking to see kids going to school by paddling any form of floating transportation (sometimes boat, sometimes something more makeshift).
How did YOU used to go to school?