Quality education at the Happiness School for stateless communities
Kampong Chhnang Province, in the centre of the country, lies in the alluvial plain south of Cambodia's largest lake, the Tonle Sap (one of the main tributaries of the Mekong). It is a rural context where people live mainly on agriculture and fishing. In this context live stateless Vietnamese communities, which are not recognised by either the Cambodian or the Vietnamese government. Although they emigrated to Cambodia decades ago, there is a strong antagonistic feeling in the population towards the Vietnamese due to some conflicts between the two countries in the last century. As a result, the Vietnamese minority has never been able to naturalise, and they are even denied any rights due to their status: they cannot do official work, own land, build houses or attend public schools. They usually reside on boats or informal dwellings, lacking basic services. These communities are economically, labour and socially isolated and children can only attend informal schools, organised and run by Christian missionaries. This situation of isolation is also reflected in a limited knowledge of the Cambodian language, which in turn accentuates the difficulties of integration into the local context.
The project includes the following actions:
1: Covering the salary of a Cambodian language teacher.
Covering the salary of a Cambodian language teacher capable of teaching Vietnamese children the language of the country they live in in order to integrate, have more opportunities and be able to interface with the authorities.
2: Provision of school materials
The classrooms will be provided with new desks, chairs and lockers. The children in the school classes will be provided with appropriate tools for learning and studying: books, notebooks and pens. Teaching support texts, essential for more adequate and effective teaching, will also be given to teachers.
3: Creation of a school library
Improve the flood-damaged school building and realise a library as a place of recreation and knowledge. The library room will also be furnished with shelves, chairs and desks, and equipped with teaching materials, and books in both Khmer and Vietnamese languages.
Supporting community resilience and ensuring the right to quality education is close to GTV's heart. The Floating Communities Project therefore aims to intervene to improve the educational conditions of children in riverside communities by improving the school facilities that accommodate them and supporting teachers to ensure their right to education. In the long term, GTV intends to provide the means to access knowledge and skills that can translate into a chance for successful integration in the local context.
The project's local partner is KCD (Khmer Community Development), a Cambodian, areligious and apolitical NGO, which aims to improve the quality of life by contributing to the achievement of the SDGs, promoting skills and awareness, working on environmental, health and nutrition issues. It also works to promote inter-ethnic peace as a precondition for economic and social development in harmony. Contacts were initiated in April-May 2022, when GTV volunteers in Cambodia volunteered for some KCD activities. When they heard about the commitment to Vietnamese minorities in Cambodia, it was decided to start a collaboration given the affinity with GTV's normal activities in Vietnam and in favour of ethnic minorities.
The project is financed by donations collected through GTV's Christmas 2022 market.