Cambodian students participate in a lecture in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian students participate in a lecture in Phnom Penh.

Image by Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Flickr)

The need

In Cambodia, 64 percent of the population of 15 million are youth, and 32 percent are under the age of 15. While many of these young people regularly engage in risky sexual behaviour, entrenched cultural taboos tacitly reinforced by older generations mean that young people - and young girls in particular - have virtually no means of accessing the accurate, non-judgmental sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information they need to stay safe and healthy.

Additionally, many youth do not feel comfortable seeking out SRH information or public health services due to fear of what others may think or say. This combination of factors is extremely dangerous, leading to the proliferation of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortion, and maternal mortality.

What is Learning about Living Cambodia?

In order to address these problems, OneWorld began working in 2013 with its partner Butterfly Works to adapt their widely successful Learning about Living programme to the Cambodian context.

In Cambodia, youth will gain access to the SRH information and skills they need to make decisions that are healthy, safe, and respectful of others through an eLearning environment, a mobile phone question-and-answer service staffed by trained counsellors, and edutainment via mobile podcasts. The eLearning environment will be based on Cambodia's national Life Skills curriculum, which was recently revised to a high standard, and will be piloted in 100 schools around the country. The eLearning platform development and implementation is being manged by the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC). The mobile question-and-answer service will be managed and staffed by Child Helpline Cambodia and Inthanou. The mobile podcasts, to be developed by and for young people, will consist of short audio episodes that can be delivered via recorded call to subscribers' phones, as well as through an on-demand Interactive Voice Response (IVR) call-in service. 

As His Excellency Dr. Teng Kunthy, Secretary-General of the National AIDS Authority affirmed, the time is right for Learning about Living to begin operations in Cambodia:

"We've observed lots of technology introduced into Cambodia in the last two years, especially for young people. Facebook is very popular - it's the year of Facebook in Cambodia... SMS is also a key activity that we need to consider. I notice that nearly 100 times per day people are sending SMS... Now you can notice that most young people have even two phones. When they meet, they put all three phones on the table to show off. So it's the right time for you!" 

Supported by: 

Learning about Living Cambodia will be implemented by a collaborative network of actors, including OneWorld UK, Butterfly Works, Child Helpline Cambodia, Inthanou, the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC), the People Health Development Association (PHD), UNESCO in Cambodia, the Women's Media Center of Cambodia (WMC), the National AIDS Authority, and the Department of School Health within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

Funding for the project has been provided by Oxfam Novib. The Learning about Living concept was developed by OneWorld UK and Butterfly Works Netherlands in 2007 and has since been introduced in Nigeria, Senegal, Morocco, Mali, and Egypt.


Additional resources:

Smart Youth, Good Future website

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