PHNONG EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Mondulkiri province is home to the Phnong people, an indigenous minority and hill tribe who survive mainly on subsistence slash-and-burn agriculture in the region's mountainous forests. Literacy rates for highland minority tribes flounder at 5.3 percent, far behind the Khmer majority of 48.8 percent. Ethnic minority females fare even worse, with a 2000 study placing the highland tribe female literacy rate at less than 1 percent.
With few educated locals, most instructors in Mondulkiri are of Khmer ethnicity from outside provinces, and Khmer remains the official language of instruction in public schools. Low enrollment rates (16 percent for secondary school compared to a national average of 35 percent) and high dropout rates attest to the difficulties faced by Phnong children.
In 2007, Kampuchean Action for Primary Education (KAPE) began the Phnong Education Initiative (PEI) to assist children with insufficient means to continue their studies at the upper primary and lower secondary levels. This year, 31 lower secondary students (26 girls) are continuing their studies thanks to LO-supported PEI scholarships which include provisions for housing, food, school supplies, lunch money, transportation and class fees. We also support grade 9 students who choose to study at the Provincial Teacher Training College (PTTC), placing graduates in their local communities to fill the gap in native language instruction. Twenty students attended PTTC this year with PEI’s support.
KAPE and Lotus Outreach have high hopes for PEI’s long-term reach, and we are already witnessing Mondulkiri’s Phnong people assume responsibility for their education, governance and natural resources.
Partner: Kampuchean Action for Primary Education (KAPE)
Supported by: IPA Foundation, Buddhist Global Relief