PHNOM PENH, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday that progress has been made in Cambodia in the protection of child rights.
The analysis of child rights found that children's enrolment rates in schools increased at all levels in 2021, reaching more than 60 percent for early childhood education, 92 percent for primary, and 47 percent for lower secondary schools, a UNICEF statement said.
However, school completion rates are still very low at 81 percent, 49 percent and 26 percent for primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education, respectively, it added.
Cambodia has invested heavily in social protection since the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, around 280,000 children benefited from child-focused cash transfer programs, and in 2022 this figure grew to almost 700,000, it said, adding that over 240,000 children were covered by the home-grown school feeding program.
The analysis acknowledged that while the government has made key advancements in its efforts to improve children's lives in Cambodia in the past decade, almost 18 percent of Cambodians still live below the poverty line, and almost half of Cambodia's population aged 0-17 years falls within the definition of multi-dimensionally poor.
"Over the last decade, Cambodia has led important progress in the lives of their children," said Will Parks, UNICEF representative to Cambodia.
"I want to congratulate Cambodia, yet we must also recognize the continued challenges that threaten to slow progress toward fully realising children's rights," he added.
Thousands of children remain at risk and violence is still a major challenge, with more than 3 million children aged 1-14 years experiencing violent physical or psychological discipline at home, according to the UNICEF statement.
The statement said the findings from the analysis will shape UNICEF Cambodia's country program and the broader United Nations Cooperation Framework for the next five years (2024-2028) and help to further align UNICEF's strategic approach with the Cambodian government's vision for the country to reach upper-middle income status by 2030 and high income status by 2050.