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The importance of safe migration awareness-raising in schools

CARE’s Safe Migration and Reduced Trafficking (SMART) project began piloting safe migration awareness-raising activities in schools in March 2014. 10 months later, CARE spoke with students and teachers from Harak Kanhchum Secondary School in Prey Veng province – the first school where SMART activities were introduced – to identify the impact and what students have learned.

Awareness-raising activities aimed to prevent unsafe migration and trafficking so that at-risk groups – including youth – can make informed decisions. CARE had trained the teachers so they were able to share information with their students and provided materials to support them. This was a new topic for many; as one boy from Grade 9 said, “The first time I heard about safe migration was when CARE came to our school.”

This new learning has meant students are much more engaged in what migrating could mean for them or their family. When interviewed, a number said they want to be well informed about the risks migrating, including the risks of trusting brokers or illegal recruitment agencies. Because of this they say it is important to learn about safe migration.

Incorporating this information into school learning has proved effective in increasing students’ understanding of what they should and should not do if they want to remain safe. After these sessions almost all students could identify the legal documents needed for migration and knew the number for calling the trafficking hot line. Educating students has also been effective in sharing messages more widely, with students saying they had explained the six key messages contained on the take-home easy cards to their families.

It is not only the students who are impressed, but teachers as well. 20% of students in Cambodia will drop out of school before Grade 9 which means these students are more vulnerable to unsafe migration and trafficking such as labour exploitation. Ensuring students are aware that migrating for work is not always an attractive option can contribute to keeping students in school. “Safe migration education in schools is important because students can be encouraged to stay in school,” says one school director. “They know how they can safely migrate when they are of legal age and they can also share information with families.”

The School Director at Harak Kanhchum Secondary has been so impressed with the safe migration school activity that the school has now incorporated the sessions into their program twice monthly and will continue do so even after the SMART project finishes. He told CARE that more organisations should advocate to the national government to have safe migration and trafficking prevention activities incorporated into the curriculum in all schools. He believes safe migration awareness-raising in schools will have long term benefits of reduced dropout rates and an increase in legal and safe migration in communities.

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