Cambodia is a young country. 31% of the population is under 14 and the median age is 24 years [1]. We are passionate about supporting these young people so they can make the changes they want to see in their communities and their country as a whole.

We are of course aware, however, of the challenges they face. Unemployment is high among Cambodia’s youth, due in part to a low level of education although younger youth are more likely to be literate (84 per cent) than older youth (76.3 per cent). By gender, more young women have reached primary levels of schooling, but young men are more likely to have had a secondary education. One factor contributing to this gender disparity is the lack of secondary schools in rural areas and the reluctance of many families to send their daughters to urban centers for education.

Unemployment for young people is highest in the capital, Phnom Penh, at 20.1 per cent for those aged 15-24.  As of 2004, more than two-thirds (69.8 per cent) of youth were in agriculture – this has declined steeply from 83.5 per cent in 1999 [2].

In 2011 the Government released a new National Policy for Youth Development identifying young people as a “key resource and the most valuable for national economic, social, cultural and environmental development and for the upholding of peace now and in the future”. This policy recognizes the importance of education in the development of young people and also the need to enhance youth participation at a regional and national level.

We are proud to be connected with a variety of initiatives in Cambodia which are entirely youth led and have a message of social change at their heart:

Volunteer for Community Development is a voluntary action group based in Chanleas Dai commune. Their mission is to fuel sustainable growth in rural communities. They believe that “Creating opportunity for youth creates a brighter future for all”. We agree!

Khmer Talks is an initiative which began in Phnom Penh but quickly spread to Siem Reap. Inspired by TED Talks, KhmerTalks is a sharing of ideas presented in the Khmer language by scholars, achievers, and students of all ages. Khmer Talks is a not-for-profit, all volunteer group with members who live and study around the world, working collaboratively on the internet, and meeting locally.

Small World is a social business and  collaborative workplace concept designed to ensure that passionate, ideas-driven youth have access to an enjoyable and productive work environment. It is a small business support center where young entrepreneurs can learn, test and launch new ideas in an open, casual environment.

[1] CIA World Fact Book

[2] UNICEF Youth Situation Analysis of Youth in Cambodia 2009

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