Each year on 11 October the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl, which this year recognised importance of investing in and empowering girls during adolescence. In the remote northeast of Cambodia CARE has a strong focus on girls’ education, including ensuring equitable access to education for girls from many of the region’s indigenous communities. To mark this international day, CARE organised a number of events in schools in Ratanak Kiri province.
In Tus village, a half day event at the primary school included games aiming to increase communication between boys and girls and to ensure girls had equal opportunities to participate. A total of 40 students from Grades 1-5 attended. As well as allowing the children to have fun in a safe environment, the games were designed to encourage children to be accountable for themselves and their own groups so that their group would not lose.
Another activity encouraged children to think of their future goals and aspirations. Students drew pictures of themselves when they grow up and described what they would be doing. After drawing their pictures, each student was invited to present their future goals. This enabled both boys and girls to have the opportunity to express their ideas and helped build their confidence to share their views in public. “I want to be a teacher when I grow up,” said one girl; another shared, “I want to be a doctor.”
At Ochum Lower secondary school, this was taken a step further. During their event for the International Day of the Girl, groups of students were asked to work together to create a poster on the topic of the importance of girls staying in school. Themes included making schools safer and more secure; supporting girls’ transition to higher education and employment; and girls’ rights. The 60 participants then worked in groups to present their pictures to other students, explaining their ideas in depth and answering questions. A committee of teachers and members of the school support committee scored each presentation. Credit was given not only for the quality of the poster presentations, but also for the teamwork and respect for others shown within each group.
Events also engaged with parents, teachers and other stakeholders. In Tus village, CARE staff aimed to create an environment of participation from supporters within the community to encourage girls to access education. Facilitators used questions so that those attending could think about how to support their children to achieve their future goals. Points discussed included ways to motivate children to attend school, allowing children time to study, and making sure children do not have too big a workload in the home.
While this international day allowed students and parents to think about the importance of staying in school and how this will help them achieve their future goals, this is something CARE’s teams in Ratanak Kiri strive for every day of the year.