Our Integrated Approach is Breaking the Cycle of Absenteeism
It used to take Sreyno more than an hour to walk to school every day, along a very quiet route, and as a result she was missing lessons frequently. Our integrated suite of new programs helps communities identify kids with low attendance levels, and offers their families support to help address the reasons why.
Absenteeism in Cambodian schools is a huge problem, and it’s not because the children are playing truant or forging sick notes. Often, it’s because their homes are too far from school, or because their parents need their help at home or with work. In a household with only one bicycle, often family members have to take turns going to school or work.
SeeBeyondBorders has been working with communities to carefully monitor attendance levels across its schools to identify students who are at a high risk of dropping out. Our Conditional Cash Payment Payment (CCP) program encourages the school community to work with the families of these students to decide the best way to support them to increase attendance. This could involve small cash payments, or even an extra bicycle. Importantly, these provisions are conditional on the families’ commitment to support their child to get to school more regularly.
Sreyno was one of nine children we identified in Angkor Thom district. It took her more than an hour to walk to school every day, along a very quiet route, and as a result she was missing lessons frequently. As a result of the local CCP committee lending her a bicycle, she and the eight other students have progressed from a 77% attendance rate in January to a 94% attendance rate in June. “Now I can travel to school more easily and safely with the bicycle,” she told us.
But getting children into school is only part of the solution. Many children fall behind in class as a result of low attendance, perpetuating the vicious circle of de-motivation. This year, SeeBeyondBorders has successfully piloted a supplementary lessons program for underperforming students in the form of two day Maths Camps, where they caught up on their studies in a fun, interactive way. As a result, 90% of those children who were previously considered ‘slow learners’ have progressed to ‘average’, ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in their performance.
Through integrated programs such as these, SeeBeyondBorders is making a real change in improving students’ access, attendance and attention at school.
Photo: Sreyno, a grade 3 student, with the bicycle she has been lent by the school committee
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