Good News

New Humanity’s Newsletter
E d i t i o n 1 0 , O c t o b e r 2 0 1 1

Summary
Myanmar: a wind of change? - A quick overlook Education in Cambodia - Teachers: low salaries and absenteism The history of Lake 94 - Keo Vanthan and her work with Cooperation for Prosperity Behind the labels - Mass fainting in garment factories in Cambodia Back to school - A year in Mondolkiri: results and challanges Collaboration with Intervita in Myanmar - A new project for vulnerable children

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Your Agenda for 2012 Since 1985 the Italian NGO ASAL publishes every year the Agenda Armadilla, dedicated to international cooperation and sustainable development. The agenda also gives voice to hundreds of big and small associations working in the field of solidarity. The 2012 edition will be focused on Fair Trade. New Humanity takes part in this project and contributes to the distribution of the Agenda. Book it now! It can be yours with a minimum offer of 10 € (+ delivery expenses, when needed).

Myanmar: a wind of change? - A quick overlook
During the last week we saw many changes occurring in Myanmar, that we can surely define as a Country in transition. After the first election of the Parliament after 22 years, the Country seems to move on along the “road towards democracy”. A first, small sign of modernization is given by the creation of corporations and trade unions, that started an advocacy campaign for the increase of salaries. Then the news that the Government enabled some websites that were banned, as Youtube and international news websites. On the 29 of September the opposition leader Aung San Su Kii had on official meeting with the Ministry of Labor, and they discussed about a possible measure of amnesty for political prisoners and about a permanent ceasefire with armed ethnic groups. After few days the order of President Thein Sein to interrupt the work of construction of the weird of Myutsone, in Kachin State, because in opposition with people’s will. And now the latest news: the Government just decided to free more than 6.000 prisoners. Also on the economical and financial side Myanmar is registering many changes. The biggest change comes from the monetary sector, with the value of Kyat that increased by 30% during the last year, gaining 200 points only in last 2 months. This increase depends on the arrival of capitals from abroad, on the increase of investments and on the fact that small savers begin to sell their reserves in dollars and to buy local currency. Just in these weeks the International Monetary Fund organized a mission in Myanmar with the purpose of contributing to the stabilization of national currency and of inflation. Well, Myanmar gives us the image of a Country on the move, rich of natural and human resources, with a big potential. Will this growth be accompanied by a human development? Let’s see….

New Humanity

Edition 10, October 2011

Education in Cambodia - Teachers: low salaries and absenteism
In Cambodia access to education, especially in rural areas, is very low. Lack of schools and poverty, that lead families to consider their sons as a labour force and to prefer to keep them home rather than sending them to school, are often considered as the main causes of these low attendance rates. Visiting the classes of primary schools you will however discover that the teachers are the ones missing, not the students. Lucia, Advisor in Education of NH Cambodia, explains us the problem of teachers’ absenteeism, with a special focus on rural areas.
In Italy teachers have to face a long study career. Is it the same in Cambodia? Of course it is. In Cambodia there are 26 teachers training schools, among which 18 are specifically dedicated to primary schools teachers and 6 to intermediate schools teachers. The training course lasts 2 years and in order to be admitted students must pass an exam and must have completed grade 12th (secondary school). Only the training schools for high school teachers requires the achievement of an university degree. In rural area is difficult to find students who have completed the entire high school cycle and the Ministry makes an exception, allowing also those who have achieved grade 9 to enrol in the training school and to become teachers. And once the teachers training schools is concluded? Each teacher can say in which area he prefers to teach and the Ministry of Education assigns them to the schools. Often teachers are assigned to schools that are far from their hometown and thus they have to move to an other region. The assignment is made on a merit base. Obviously, everyone prefers to stay in the Capital, and in rural and remote area, where no one wants to go, such as Mondolkiri, only teachers with the lowest grades are sent. According to what you say, once the Ministry assigns the schools teachers can’t ask to move to an other region? Well, when the assignment process in on-going, paying a sort of tax you can ask to be moved in the city you prefer, and those who can afford it shell out a tidy sum just to remain in the Capital. Some pay up to 6.000 dollars. You will understand that only those coming from very rich families can afford this luxury. After 2 years of teaching, instead, everyone can ask to be moved to an other city. But also in this case teachers have to pay a considerable tax, almost 3.000 USD. We imagine that only few teachers can afford to pay such a high tax. Really few. Just consider that the average monthly salary of a primary school teacher is 50 dollars and the salary of a high school teacher is among 120 and 150 dollars. A kindergarten teacher earns just 20 dollars. Just the bare essentials. This surely leads us to the problem of teachers absenteeism. Sure. Salary are very low. Just to give you an idea, consider that a litre of fuel in Cambodia costs more than 1 dollar. Moreover, salaries aren’t paid on a regular monthly basis, but are paid in a unique rate at the end of the year. As the teachers find an opportunity to earn a small extra income, they have no other choice than staying home from school in order to supplement their salary. Visiting schools during the harvest season, for example, you will see that most of the teachers are missing because they are working in the fields. Those few dollars that they gain thanks to the work in the fields are necessary in order to live. Obviously, this generates a vicious circle...children go to school but the teachers are missing, after a few days that the situation is repeating parents decide to pull back children from school and to keep them home working. Some teachers instead have realized that they can generate extra income giving private tuition lessons to their students. Unfortunately, also this approach can generate problems. Some teachers at school give only basic notions, so that students are obliged to attend private lessons if they want to learn the whole academic program and to pass the final exam. As a result, those who can’t afford private lessons won’t be able to pass the exams and poorest families withdraw children from school, knowing that even attending all lessons they wouldn’t be able to get a diploma. How can this problem be tackled? It isn’t easy, main actions should be undertaken by the Government. New Humanity is trying to introduce a sort of incentive for the teachers of the schools we collaborate with, assigning a sort of “prize” to the teachers who regularly go to school. But we know that this in not enough to face such a big problem and we are already looking for new solutions. Lucia Wong, Advisor on Education NH Cambogia

New Humanity

Edition 10, October 2011

The history of Lake 94
Keo Vanthan and her work with Cooperation for Prosperity
Some years ago, passing by Lake 94 area, you would have seen just a road along a canal in an empty land. Now more than 1.000 people live along the same road in fortune-made houses. What once was an abandoned pond, today is a multitude of houses made by homeless families that come from nearest but also far villages after losing all their properties and work. Year after year the concentration of population increases so that the government decided to recognize Lake 94 as village. The last survey of the local village authority shows a population of 1270 people, mostly young, for 153 families. Here Cooperation For Prosperity , a Cambodian NGO founded in Keo Vanthan visiting a family 2005 by New Humanity, works. “Most of families live with less than 1 $ per day - explains us Keo Vanthan, director of the organization - People who live here don't own land. The land where they live belongs to a foreigner company. Most of them plant rice and vegetables near by the house and if insects and mice don't ruin the harvest, every family can have 200 to 400 kg rice a year. This is considered sufficient for a family of 5 people, but most of the families are twice bigger.” The government is trying to make pressure on them to leave the area, but they have no other options. Cooperation for Prosperity supports various development projects in this area. “We started working with children. - says Keon Wanthan Children here suffer of endemic malnutrition and our first intervention focused on nutritional support.” Today Cooperation for Prosperity works in the sectors of education, health and professional training for women. “Women, together with children, are our main target. We try to enhance the cooperation among families and the constitution of self-help groups. If a family in need simply ask for help to other families, it will be seen as a burden. But if all families work together, each of them will both be a resource for the others and benefit from the

A corner of Lake 94

Did you know?
Garment factory in Cambodia employs more than 270.000 workers. Nearly all – more than 85% – of garment factory workers are young women aged 18 to 25 years old. The minimum wage for the garment and shoe industry is US$45 a month, with working shifts of 48-hour week. Source: ILO

Behind the labels...
Mass fainting in garment factories in Cambodia
And here we are, talking about fashion again. But this time the news isn’t that happy. On August the 30th the newspapers reported of 2 mass fainting in a Cambodian garment factory that tailors cloths for important western brands, such us the Swedish giant H&M. 300 workers fell on the ground simultaneously. A few days before, a similar event occurred in an other factory of the same group. The reasons are still to be investigated, but a tradeunion leader reveals that the cause can be identified in the inadequate aeration of the working rooms and in the exhausting working rhythms that workers are obliged to respect, adding that in the last weeks they were forced to do overtime work, up to 6 hours per day. He also denounces suspect smokes coming out from the sewing machines and the excessive use of sprays on cloths. The manager of the firm, interviewed by Phnom Penh Post, affirms that it is only a strange psychological phenomenon. What is sure is that workers, obliged to work 48 hours per week with a wage of less than 0,30 dollars per hour, don’t have many benefits. The International Labor Organization, in collaboration with H&M, started a n investigation. By now, it’s natural to ask ourselves what we are wearing and what is hidden behind our t-shirts...

New Humanity

Edition 10, October 2011

Back to school A year in Mondolkiri: results and challenges
In Cambodia, as in many western countries, the main school vacation starts in July. Therefore, at the end of June 2011, New Humanity organized several closing ceremonies in the "partners" schools, both in Kompong Chhnang and Mondolkiri provinces. Such event was conducted to congratulate the children for their efforts in studying during a full year but also to motivate the local communities to pay more attention to education and to send their children to school the next school year. Students, parents, teachers, school directors and local authorities were invited to join these ceremonies. During the school year 2010/2011 New Humanity supported 15 public primary schools, granting scholarships for 1.880 students in Mondolkiri and 733 students in Kompong Chhnang. New Humanity also started up 20 kindergartens classes that hosted a total of 565 children. low. Teachers should perform their work more conscientiously and students should study harder.” He also took this opportunity to encourage parents to send their children to school: "There is nothing to worry about the expenses related to your children schooling. The situation is better than before because NH has provided school materials, breakfast and has improved school's facilities". While the floor was also given to parents, one mother from the Phnong ethnic minority group added that the teachers were absent and came late very often. "I sent my children to school, but they came back just around one hour later and told me that their teacher didn’t show up. Why should I send them to school then?" she said.

According to Mr. Socheat Sok, NH Program Officer based in Mondolkiri, such problem occurred in almost all the primary schools of Mondolkiri. “Next school year – he says – we should focus our attention on teachers, involving them and finding new strategies in order to guarantee Mondolkiri is one of the poorest regions of Cambodia and their presence at school.” the access to education is very low. At the end of the ceremony, NH provided T-shirts to each New Humanity started to work in this region last year, student and then all the participants supporting public primary were invited to enjoy a solidarity schools and starting up 15 lunch. kindergartens classes. These classes host children belongOn behalf of all beneficiaries of our ing to Phnong ethnic minority projects, NH staff would like to exthat have the possibility to press his gratitude and thank to the learn khmer language and to donors for supporting those underacquire the basic knowledge privileged people, especially indigethat will enable them to go to nous students and their families in primary school. Mondolkiri province. “In our primary school – states the Commune leader of Pu Rapet, in Mondolkiri – teachers attendance is irregular and their performance is
And after all these words...let’s have lunch together!

Mr. Chum Vey, Administrator, NH Cambodia

Collaboration with Intervita in Myanmar A new project for vulnerable children
New Humanity renovates the collaboration with the Italian association Intervita, starting up a new project in Myanmar that will support 2 monastic schools in Yangon and 3 orphanages in Taunggyi. The project will guarantee the access to primary education and health care to more than 1.000 children. Most of these children are parentless: some of them are orphans, other were abandoned by their families that were too poor to take care of them. Children hosted in these centres come from different regions of Myanmar. In rural areas, in fact, there is lack of school, especially of secondary schools, and students are often obliged to move to main cities if they want to study. Also health conditions are critic in rural areas. In villages there aren’t hospitals or public health centres and sick persons have to face long journeys if they want to be cured. Thanks to the collaboration with Intervita we will be able to partially pay school fees, hire a doctor that will visit regularly the children and ensure them a complete and equilibrated diet. Education and health are both fundamental elements in order to ensure to these children, who are often forgotten by everyone, a better future.

New Humanity is a volunteer, non profit and apolitical humanitarian organization, founded in 1992 in order to work in SouthEastern Asia. New Humanity’s vision is a society where everyone, according to his needs and capabilities, can receive the appropriate education and assistance and can contribute to the development of his own community, whether rural or urban. New Humanity’s main commitment is the promotion of education as a fundamental weapon in the crusade against poverty and social exclusion, thanks to the affirmation of the dignity and the rights of every man. Currently New Humanity works in Cambodia and Myanmar through the implementation of programmes aimed at promoting the social and human development of the whole population. New Humanity’s activity focuses on education, rural development, health and professional training. New Humanity works in the respect of the principles of subsidiarily, reciprocity, joint responsibility and cooperation, promoting local capabilities and implementing its programmes in step with development plans of local authorities and international agencies.

Associazione New Humanity

Via Mose Bianchi 94 20149 Milano

Tel.: +39 (0)2 4382373 info@newhum.org www.newhum.org

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