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Community Work Skills Program

The agricultural policy of the Royal Government aims to improve productivity and diversification, thereby enabling the agriculture sector to serve as the dynamic driving force for economic growth and poverty reduction’ (Rectangular Strategy 2004). Increasing the yields using the existing land through intensification has become the top priority of the Royal Government.

The Community Work Skills program improves agriculture productivity through increasing the crop yield from existing land and advocating the best practice use of basic agriculture technology.

Community Work of Farming
Vulnerable family planting after receiving seeds

At present, 23.8 percent of Cambodia’s adult population has had no exposure to schooling, with only 30 percent having ‘some schooling’. In fact, of those that started primary school, 55.1 percent dropped out before completion. The result of this is an adult literacy rate of 73.76 percent in 1999 (Socio-Economic Survey 1999), 84.62 percent in males and 64.30 percent in females.

The demand trends displayed in the labor market show that unpaid family labor is still the largest single category of employment status in Cambodia (42.8 percent), as distinct from the low number of wage earners (28.4 percent). This demonstrates a low demand for skilled workers in the market. Women have a significantly higher incidence of unpaid family work than men. A high proportion of workers have more than one job – 32 percent of women and 38 percent of men, which indicates the low pay scale in the labor market. Self-employed women are more likely to hold permanent jobs than their male counterparts. The overwhelmingly agricultural nature of the economy and labor market can be observed given three quarters of Cambodia’s workers are engaged primarily in agriculture hunting, forestry, and fishing. Women are over-represented in agriculture, manufacturing and trade. Within wage employment, the most important sector is manufacturing (the Garment industry accounts for 74.4 percent of employees in manufacturing).

Children go skill in the community
Children receiving bomboo weaving skill in the community

Child labor interferes with schooling and as such jeopardizes the future supply of skills. The labor force participation rate/employment rate of children aged 10-14 is far from negligible (21.2 percent). The incidence of child labor increases with age (from 11.2 percent at age 10 to 32.2 percent at age 14). Children work 25 hours per week on average. The conflict with schooling is clear. Among child workers, 70 percent were still attending school. Among those no longer attending school, 40.1 percent had no schooling. The overwhelming majority of working children are engaged in unpaid family labor (96.8 percent), almost all of them in agriculture (87.3 percent), helping on the family farm. Unlikely to have been captured are the worst forms of child labor – prostitution, begging, and scavenging – along with domestic work outside the child’s own home. The Cambodian Human Development Report (Ministry of Planning, 2000) quotes rough estimates of 5,000 commercial sex workers under the age of eighteen, 1,000 street children, and 6,500 domestic workers aged 14017 in Phnom Penh alone.

So to enable children, especially girls, to stay at home and avoid the worst kinds of child labor, we can develop their basic agricultural skills. If possible, developing other skills like literacy will introduce these children to further development opportunities. Furthermore, given that women are more likely to hold permanent jobs than their male counterparts, a great opportunity for girls/women to hold a permanent job in the home is to develop their handicraft skills. This enables them to produce products suitable for sale at markets near home.

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