Chrovorn Nos is a thirteen year old Kreung girl from the remote northeastern province of Ratanank Kiri, Cambodia. Like many girls in her village, Nos spent most of her time taking care of her younger brother, cooking, and fetching water and firewood while her parents farmed their small plot of land.
Until a few years ago, Nos did not consider getting an education as she had important work to do helping her family.
Through the Bending Bamboo project, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and CARE set up bilingual education at a local school so that children could be educated in their own language while learning the national language, Khmer. CARE’s program in her village and others in the province also introduced ‘household bargaining’ and discussions on the division of workloads in the family. These discussions helped communities to understand why girls’ education is important and how an equitable workload distribution in a family can allow both boys and girls to attend school.
The situation in Nos’ home is now very different. While many girls still can’t attend or complete their schooling because of a higher domestic workload, her father ensures that she shares her household chores with her younger brother so that she can attend school. “It is new for boys to help with chores,” Nos remarks. “Teachers also give advice to boys to help their sisters and parents, and explain how to keep the house clean.”
Now, many more girls attend school and are able to balance their family responsibilities along with their homework. Parents, teachers and village elders see the importance of girls education for the future.
According to Village Women’s Committee member Dum Natt, “In the future there will be less land for farming. If girls do not try to study hard, in the future they will not have enough land for their survival. If they don’t have land, what kind of business will they do? So they should try to study, to get more education and then they can get any job what they want. That means girls can use their brain and knowledge better than sell their labour.”