Working in partnership with the Ministry of Education to increase attendance levels at primary schools across Cambodia, WFP provides Food Scholarships in the form of Take Home Rations to some 20,000 vulnerable students across Cambodia. Focusing on the most vulnerable and food-insecure, WFP aims to reduce drop-out rates, reduce hunger and improve students’ ability to concentrate on their lessons.
In the quiet village of Rauk, in Spean Sreng commune, 13-year-old Chout Cham Ty sits under a tree with her aunt outside her primary school. She is one of some 80 students who have gathered here early this morning to receive a Take Home Ration of rice and vegetable oil from the World Food Programme (WFP). Take Home Rations are provided by WFP to over 3,000 students in 161 primary schools annually in Banteay Meanchey province in North West Cambodia, on the border with Thailand. The bimonthly ration of 30 kg of rice and 2 kg of oil is often the primary source of food not only for the child, but for the entire household.
Chout tells us, ‘I am 13 years old but I have only just completed Grade 4’. The pressure of poverty on her family meant that she was continually absent from school as a small child and as a result has repeated both Grade 1 and Grade 2.
Two years ago, poverty drove Chout’s parents, who were landless agricultural labourers, to emigrate to Thailand with their four youngest children in search of work. Chout has lived for the last two years with her aunt and uncle, who have three small children and their hands full raising them.
Chout’s high attendance levels at school this year earned her a place on WFP’s Educational Programme which encourages the completion of primary school. The programme focuses on vulnerable students, in particular targeting female children. The Take Home Ration provided to Chout feeds their family of six for almost a month. Chout has passed grade 4 and will be promoted to grade 5 in the next academic year. She says she wants to complete primary school and go to secondary school in the neighbouring village. ‘When I’m older I want to be a teacher’, she says.
Her attendance at school and subsequent receipt of the WFP Food Scholarship enables her to be the chief breadwinner in her household and may just be enough to help Chout complete her education and realise her dream.