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Citizens Express Satisfaction and Joy that Children's Rights are Being Promoted Today

PHNOM PENH: International Children's Day, held on 1 June, is a day to commemorate and honor children and to especially demand their rights. Since 1950, many countries around the world have celebrated International Children's Day on 1 June to pay special attention to children, both in life and in law.

EAC News interviewed some people on the ground to see how they felt about this special day.

Like other countries around the world, Cambodia also celebrates International Children's Day on 1 June every year, and the general public, including both students and parents, are pleased that children in Cambodia have the right to survive, right to education, and are cared for by the law.

A saleswoman in Phnom Penh, Chhon Sros said that she is happy that the children are now studying, and have schools, hospitals, and all kinds of new things compared to her time, which was very different.

"Back then, because my family was poor and just got a new light, so I did not have any education because my parents were too poor to send their children to school," said Chhon Sros. "To this day, I am happy that children, nieces and nephews, have good schools and hospitals because the Royal Government has helped children to have all the rights and freedoms.”

Another seller at home in Phnom Penh, Pat Sopheap, similarly said that now children are able to go to good schools, unlike before. She herself did not go to high school and said that before, children were often exploited in the labor force.

She said, "Now there is progress, my children have studied well and have good schools, unlike the previous generation. I did not get to study much, only at low levels because of the family economy and difficulties. I strive for my children to have higher education so that they won’t have to face hardships like their parents.”

A sixth-grader at Russey Keo Primary School, Khim Makara, said she was happy to be in school, have friends and be knowledgeable.

She said, "Today is International Children's Day. I'm happy as a child to attend Russey Keo Primary School. I'm happy. I have friends and get to study and be knowledgeable for the future. I would like to thank all the teachers who have helped teach me from an early age until now. I thank my parents for making me see the light of day and be able to go study."

Meanwhile, another sixth-grader, Sok Liza, said she was happy that she had the opportunity to attend school, and thanked the government for vaccinating people against Covid-19, giving her the opportunity to return school in person.

"I thank the government for establishing many schools and providing Covid-19 vaccines to all students so that they can return to school," she said.

A teacher at Russey Keo Primary School, Chao Suntory, said that 1 June is a reminder to all adults who went through a period when child rights were revoked.

"1 June is the day when [we commemorate how] all children have the right to survive, go to school, receive protection from adults and be able to develop themselves," said Chao Suntory. "This Children's Day allows all children to go to school. Compared to the 1980s, my generation, children were under the oppression of elders and there were all kinds of violence. So, in this day and age, children can go to school, no matter what, public or private schools, children can have all options, and I also thank the government for helping to develop our society.”

Former Child Rights Advocate and current Secretary of State for the Ministry of Social Affairs, Em Chan Makara, also celebrates International Children's Day and said he sees many changes in the government's involvement in promoting rights and protecting children in Cambodia. He said that many schools now use a new form of education that does not use violence against students, and that the number of children who work at home is reduced, as more children are able to develop their intelligence, access education and increase their participation on the international stage.

On International Children's Day, 1 June, Prime Minister Hun Sen also sent a message commemorating the day and calling on all ministries and institutions to promote changes in implementation and policy at the local and national levels, to increase transparency, accountability, equity, and virtue in providing services to children, as well as to continue strengthening integration to stop all forms of child abuse, especially for children who have lost parental care. Children need special protection in the public forum, within a safe village and commune policy, hence, all ministries, institutions and authorities at all levels should continue to cooperate in an independent, neutral manner with UN agencies, development partners, national and international organizations and so on.

Cambodia is currently implementing one of the first major rights for children: the right to life through Covid-19 vaccination for children aged three years and above, to prevent a large-scale spread of the virus. Among the 10 members of ASEAN, Cambodia is the best ranked country for the lowest mortality rate and infection.

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