I want to be a school teacher in the future: Supporting education for children with disabilities in Cambodia

Cambodia is known for its World Heritage Site of Angkor. After the harsh civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, the country is now experiencing remarkable economic development, especially in the urban areas. On the other hand, the environment surrounding people with disabilities has not improved. AAR Japan is working to promote "inclusive education" where all children, regardless of disabilities, can learn together at school.

Here is a message sent to Japan from a girl who attends an elementary school supported by AAR.

Chev will soon go on to junior high school

Hello! My name is Chev, and I'm a 14-year-old sixth-grader at an elementary school in a village, east of Phnom Penh. I should be in junior high school by now, but due to some reasons, I'm a little behind.

I was born with a foot deformity called clubfoot. Even though I could manage to walk, I could not walk long distances because of the pain. Therefore, I had to be picked up and dropped off at elementary school by my parents and sister on their bikes.

I was a little sad because I could not run around and play like my friends, but my family did their best to take care of me. But thanks to the surgery I underwent two years ago, the deformity in my foot is much better, and now I can walk without feeling much pain.

Also, AAR gave me a bicycle so that I could go to school by myself, so I go to school by myself every day, just like other children. When I ride my bike in the wind, it makes me feel fine.

My favorite subject is the national language (Khmer). I love reading books, so I was very happy when many books were delivered to the school library with the support of AAR. When I open a book, I can learn about many different worlds I have never seen before. I always have a hard time deciding which book to read.

With my classmates in the classroom

Between classes, I chat with my friends, play games with them, and teach each other what I don't understand in my studies. Sometimes it's a little inconvenient for me to go to the bathroom, so my good friends always help me out, and I really appreciate it.

Next year, I will be junior high school student, and I plan to ride my bicycle four kilometers each way to school. I often teach my sister how to study at home. I feel very happy when teaching someone, so I would like to become a school teacher in the future.

Bicycle for school provided by AAR

To all the people in Japan who support us, "Okun chraun! (Thank you!). I will continue to study hard and be close to my family and friends.

Promoting inclusive education where everyone can learn together

Since 2013, AAR has been implementing a project to promote inclusive education for children with disabilities in Kandal Province, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. As part of the government's efforts to support education for children with disabilities, which has been actively promoted since the 2000s, the project has provided training to strengthen the capacity of teachers, made school buildings accessible, and conducted awareness raising activities in the community.

Many children with disabilities do not attend school, not because of the disability itself, but due to the lack of understanding of their families and residents, the schools' lack of readiness to accept them, and the lack of appropriate assistive devices to help them attend school.

At the school Chev attends, a class for students with special needs opened in November 2019 with the support of AAR. In addition to providing training to the teachers, AAR also provided teaching materials and equipment. Although elementary schools across Cambodia were temporarily closed due to COVID-19, they were reopened in November 2021 and are now holding classes three days a week.

We would like to ask for your understanding and cooperation in supporting AAR Japan's education for children with disabilities.