At Sala Baï, the campaign to recruit the future class is traditionally launched in January. This year, the aim is to recruit 150 students while maintaining a strong focus on the northern provinces to help in the fight against human trafficking.
150 will join Sala Baï in September 2018. In order to ensure that this training helps those most in need, a long recruitment process is carried out by the school’s social workers. This process began on 4 January with an open day for NGOs. For example, in 2017-2018, 40% of students came to Sala Baï via NGOs such Enfants du Mékong, Enfants de la Rizière, the Lataste orphanage and Enfants Sourire Khmer.
Fight against human trafficking
The campaign was subsequently launched by posting information on the school’s website and targeted publications on Facebook, with an extra effort at communicating in the northern provinces: Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear. On the border with Thailand, they are specifically impacted by human trafficking. Since the recruitment campaign was stepped up in these regions, one-third of the Sala Baï students come from this area. An effort that needs to be maintained.
These regions are where many Cambodians cross over into Thailand, attracted by salaries that are twice as high as in Cambodia. But once they’ve arrived, the Eldorado often quickly turns into a nightmare. Having left Cambodia with the hope of earning higher salaries, these people are often recruited by traffickers who exploit their vulnerability by using physical violence or threats to get them to work in industries such as fishing or construction or to subject them to sexual exploitation. According to the latest report by the UN’s National Office on Drugs and Crime, published in August 2017 and entitled “Trafficking in persons from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar in Thailand”, four million migrants live in Thailand, 90% of whom come from neighbouring countries in the Grand Mékong sub-region: Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar.
Progress report on the recruitment process
For the Class of 2018-2019, 401 applications were selected. These young people will take written tests in English, Khmer and Mathematics on 18 March at Sala Baï and on 25 March at the Sisophon centre provided by the NGO Enfants du Mékong, in the Banteay Manchey province. Starting in early April, the families of the selected candidates will be visited by our social workers in order to check their socio-economic situation so as to ensure that Sala Baï fulfils its mission of providing access to education and training to those who are most in need.
Poverty in Cambodia is in decline. However, although the proportion of families living below the poverty threshold fell from 47.8% in 2007 to 13.5% in 2014, according to World Bank figures, the number of vulnerable people in Cambodia remains high and represented 4.5 million people in 2014.
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