Report Launch: The Youth Situation Analysis in Cambodia
09 September 2021
Opening Remarks by Mrs Pauline Tamesis, the UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia
H.E.Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Permanent Vice Chief of National Youth Development Council (NYDC) and Minister of MoEYS
H.E. Kim Sethany, Secretary of State, MoEYS
H.E. Sroy Socheath, Secretary-General of NYDC and Director-General of Directorate General of Youth, MoEYS
Mr. Onn Sivutha, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of NYDC and Director of Planning Department, MoEYS
H.E Under-Secretary-General of NYDC
Line Ministries and Delegates from all 25 capital and provinces
UN agencies, Development Partners, NGO/INGOs, and Representative of Adolescents and Youth
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am excited to be with you at this important event launching: “The Youth Situation Analysis in Cambodia”.
Let me start by thanking the National Youth Development Council (NYDC) for leading the report development, with joint efforts and funding from UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP, and UNAIDS.
Through capturing the current situation of adolescents and youth in Cambodia and identifying their challenges, the report can effectively guide future interventions to promote the human rights of youth. The right to health. The right to education. The right to work. The right to participate in decision that concerns them.
The report will be crucial in informing the implementation of government policies, development interventions by UN and NGOs alike, and funding.
Cambodia has a large youth population (32% aged 10-24 years), which presents a unique opportunity for the country to optimize its demographic dividend by increasing investment in human capital development.
Youth are Cambodia’s hope and future, and RGC’s focus on recovering better from the pandemic places top priority on human resource capability and society’s resilience. Therefore, investments in education, skills, health, social protection, nutrition are important investments in unleashing youth’s potential.
This will allow more sustainable social and economic development, in line with Cambodia’s vision of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income economy country by 2050, as outlined in the national strategic development plan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What are some of my key takeaways from the study?
As the first-ever (large scale) study that included 10 to 14 years, we are now better able to understand the education and health needs of adolescents, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this cohort. This age bracket has never been part of DHS.
The report reveals that around 29% had dropped out of formal education, including 38% who belonged to a family who qualified as ID Poor.
Around 34% of adolescents aged 15-19 and around 71% of youth aged 20-24 were not in formal education. Out-of-school adolescents and youth reported that they stopped their education at different levels, with 34% when in primary school, 46% when in lower secondary school, and 20% when in upper secondary school.
Parents and schools were the main sources of information for young people aged 15-24 about sexual and reproductive health, however, the results further revealed that comprehensive knowledge of young people aged 15-24 on sexual or reproductive health is still limited.
The presentation made by Mr. Onn Sivutha, provided us with a clear picture and a roadmap to address the issues and the needs of adolescents and youth in Cambodia.
It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on learning outcomes, employment opportunities, mental health, early marriage have reversed Cambodia’s development gains. These are urgent areas to address.
We all need to continue the reflection and develop innovative concrete action toward realizing the full potential of adolescents and youth. How do we do this? Continuing regular engagement of youth throughout the process, while at the same time increasing their awareness of their critical role in the larger community.
“Nothing for youth, without youth.”
This is a resounding call made by young people at many different forums. I repeat here to inspire us.
So how do we accelerate our collective actions and innovations?
First: Invest in youth-led solutions
Address youth issues through youth-led & youth-focused programming and intervention at the national and sub-national level
Increase resources and budget commitment at all sectors to advance and accelerate the implementation of National Youth Development Policy and its National Action Plan
Build more competencies and skills of teachers with quality pre-service, in-services and refresher training as well as reference materials.
Create an enabling environment: it has been done including in schools and communities, however, a stronger leadership support is required for national and sub-national responses and full empowerment
More importantly, enable inter-sectoral collaboration for effective and consistent Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and youth-friendly Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services
Use available & quality data for evidence based-advocacy in response to the needs of young people, for instance, in skills building to prepare for the 21st-century job market.
Foster youth participation in democratic life. The report found that only 1 in 2 of youth aged 20-24 participated in the survey and reported that they voted in the last national election in 2018. The reasons are not being registered voters (30%), and not having ID cards (30%)
Engage young people meaningfully in curriculum development related to sexuality education
ensure youth and adolescent participation in the planning and budgeting process at the commune/Sangkat level and other community-based mechanisms, to respond to their specific needs and concerns
build the awareness, skills and capacity of authorities to promote youth participation, to share information, to listen and take youth’s views seriously
I am encouraged that the National Policy on Youth Development, National Action Plan on Youth Development and Cambodian Youth Development Index are in place to guide and coordinate the various line ministries’ efforts for investments in youth development. This is also done through the national and sub-national youth machinery, the National Youth Development Council (NYDC).
The United Nations in Cambodia, through the Cooperation Framework, has identified key accelerators and catalytic programme areas that will seek to trigger positive multiplier effects across the UNDAF outcomes and the CSDGs.
We stand ready to support the Government to fulfil young people’s rights and development needs through collective and innovative action.
By working together across sectors and in collaboration with young leaders, we can overcome obstacles to young people’s progress and pave the pathway to adulthood with support and opportunity.
Let us use the findings of this study, build on its recommendations in our priority programming, evidence-based advocacy, such as in unfettered access to health and SRHR services, increased budget allocation, and ultimately in taking action.
Young people are agents of positive change. They are the backbone of the future and the leaders of Cambodia’s tomorrow.