The Kingdom of Cambodia regards youth as a key resource and the most valuable asset for economic, social, cultural and environmental development, as well as for the maintenance of peace in the present and the future.
In the Kingdom’s social, cultural and political context, youth is referred to as males and females between 15 and 30 years of age, regardless of marital status, holding Cambodian nationality.
This article focuses on the National Policy on Cambodia Youth Development, Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023 and the results of the Youth Development Sub-Sector for the academic year 2019-2020.
In order to promote the rights and responsibilities of youth as an active force for the nation, and to reduce some negative aspects, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) – as the Secretariat General of Cambodia’s Council for Youth Development – with the approval of the Council of Ministers in the Plenary Session of June 24, 2011, has developed the National Policy on Cambodian Youth Development.
This aims at instilling youth with enthusiasm, perseverance and professionalism in their capacity development.
The National Policy on Cambodian Youth Development was developed to equip youth with physical strength, intelligence and necessary skills, as well as conscientiousness, ethics and values, so that they can be good citizens for society.
It was developed in accordance with the Cambodian Constitution, the Law on Education, the Labour Law, the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II, Millennium Development Goals, the National Strategic Development Plan and all other relevant international instruments
This national policy has six set goals:
• Providing youth with opportunity to get quality and equity access to education and vocational training;
• Motivating youth to develop their sense of initiative, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship;
• Promoting gender equity and equality among youth and especially creating opportunity and rights to empower females in particular;
• Developing youth in their personal development in terms of physical strength, knowledge, skills, morality, spirit of living together in peace and harmony, to be patriotic, have a love of people, self-confidence, dignity, leadership, and a broad understanding of society;
• Providing opportunity for youth to express opinions and perspectives and to make decision concerning community and national development;
• Mobilising the efforts of all relevant ministries, institutions, development partners, civil society organisations, communities and parents or guardians to develop youth.
The following strategies have been set to achieve those goals and objectives:
• The development of legal frameworks and mechanisms;
• The promotion of education, training and capacity development;
• The enhancement of health education, healthcare and the provision of health services;
• The development of a spirit of entrepreneurship and the labour market;
• The promotion of protection of social security, peace, and justice;
• The enhancement of youth participation;
• The promotion of leisure, recreational and sport activities;
• The promotion of arts and cultural activities;
• The promotion of awareness on the environment, agriculture, tourism, and business;
• The promotion of volunteerism;
• The promotion of gender equality;
• Prevention of drug abuse and the need for youth rehabilitation.
In addition, specific action plans have been put in place to ensure the effectiveness and success of the above objectives, goals and strategies.
MoEYS and stakeholders have been promoting and gathering public support for the positive development of youth and to provide them with opportunities to develop their potential in education, their careers and decision making.
This will allow them to contribute to their families, communities, the country and the world. In this regard, the Ministry of Education has set out objectives and strategies for the Youth Development Sub-sector in the Education Strategic Plan as follows:
Sub-sector Objective 1 “Develop digital, entrepreneurship, young leadership and other skills programmes for youth development”. This consists of four strategies:
• Enhancing digital skills and promoting the application of knowledge on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for youth in response to the fourth industrial revolution;
• Enhancing creative and innovative thinking habits through entrepreneurial spirit, promotion of self-employment, access to employment and business-oriented services, and labour-market information;
• Developing young people holistically and educate them to live in peace and harmony, to be patriotic and have a love of people, self-confidence, self-esteem, leadership, and a broad understanding of society;
• Increasing youth participation in community development and society.
Sub-sector Objective 2 is to “Develop infrastructure for youth activities”, with developing a model for youth centres as its strategy.
Sub-sector Objective 3 is to “Enhance institutional and individual capacities of youth development programmes at national and sub-national level”, and comprises of three strategies: i) Enhancing the capacity of youth workers at all levels; ii) Strengthening institutional capacity for youth development programme implementation; and iii) Mobilising efforts from all relevant ministries, institutions, development partners, civil society organisations, communities, parents or guardians to develop youth.
Over the years, youth development sub-sector has achieved remarkable success, especially on the strengthening of the Cambodian youth and children councils in public schools, the establishment of subject clubs, entrepreneurship training, volunteerism, leadership and soft skills and technical training.
According to the”Congress Report on the Education, Youth and Sport Performance in the Academic Year 2019-2020 and Goals for the Academic Year 2020-2021” for the Youth Development Sub-Sector for the 2019-2020 Academic Year, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport is proud to have achieved many important tasks, such as:
• Good Children, Good Students, and Good Friends, by promoting the movement of three good competition on “Good Children, Good Students, and Good Friends” from primary to lower secondary schools at the capital/provincial level;
• Cambodian Council for Children, which sets out implementation framework from primary to lower secondary schools, with a total of 1,347,654 members (54.62 per cent female);
• Cambodian Youth Councils, which set out a framework for implementation in upper secondary schools, with a total of 296,597 members (183,343 females);
• Scouts, with a total of 166,135 members (49 per cent female);
• The promotion of youth volunteerism and involvement;
• Entrepreneurship and leadership education;
• Short-term functional training on digital and technical skills;
• Promoting youth health and wellbeing;
• Youth competitions;
• Camping and study tours;
• Dissemination of youth affairs activities;
• Strengthening students associations;
• Cooperation with development partners and stakeholders;
• Exchanging relations and international cooperation;
• Institutional capacity and centre infrastructure development;
• The work of the General Secretariat of the Cambodian National Council for Youth Development focusing on inter-ministerial coordination of youth’s multi-sectoral affairs, vision, policy development, and national decisions on youth’s development.
To address the challenges that have arisen in the sub-sector of youth development, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has set targets for the academic year 2020-2021, such as:
• Continuing to update the annual operating plan to promote digital youth development programmes in response to digital education and learning in new contexts;
• Updating the guidelines and books of the Cambodian Children Council and the Cambodian Youth Council, especially the guidelines on the establishment of debate clubs in the capital’s schools and the strengthening of study clubs in the capitals/provincial schools;
• Reinforcing the monitoring and evaluating mechanism through finalising the draft framework for monitoring and evaluation of youth development sub-sector;
• Increasing cooperation with partner organisations and the private sector to mobilise support for training programmes at youth centres;
• Increasing cooperation with the World Scouts, partner organisations, communities, and the private sector to mobilise support for the expansion of the scout membership;
• Continuing to strengthen and develop staff’s capacity through the creation of digital curricula and internal training using online classrooms on a number of subjects, such as programme planning and development, youth programme development and event management, administrative work and reporting, administration and office computer skills, monitoring and evaluation framework, leadership and management behaviour, and public financial affairs.
The establishment of the National Policy on Cambodia Youth Development, the objectives and strategies for the youth development sub-sector as stated clearly in the Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023, the outcome of the Youth Development Sub-Sector for the academic year 2019-2020, and the goals for the academic year 2020-2021 reflect the efforts of the Cambodian government, especially the Ministry of Education, with the highest sense of responsibility, to participate in the development of the Kingdom’s youth.