Coming from a poor family, Lenk Sreyneang, a 22 year old ethnic minority from the Mondul Kiri province encounters many challenges in the pursuit of education.
“My father doesn’t want me to pursue higher education because he has no money. He thinks that after I graduate, it is unlikely that I can get a good job with a high salary,” says Lenk Sreyneang, 22, an ethnic minority from the Mondul Kiri province.
Her parents work as coolies far from home and when they leave for work, Lenk’s siblings live in the province’s dormitory to study. Thanks to hard work and continuous effort, she has managed to get a scholarship for a bachelor in law at Phnom Penh. However, she is not getting support from her relatives and ethnic group to study in the city as their culture dictates that a girl should not live alone far away from home or the ethnic community.
“Our tradition is such that everyone live together as one big family.”
Despite the lack of support, she is determined to continue her effort. After moving to Phnom Penh, she also finds herself more connected to the world and technology.
“When I was still living in my hometown in the province, I did not get any information or news. I have no knowledge about international or national news. Now, I know how to use the computer and internet for doing research.”
For Hol Bunhour, 24, an ethnic minority from Preah Vihear, education is essential for him to get a good paying job. He currently studies management under a scholarship and also hopes to use his skills to develop the country as well as his ethnic-minority group back in the province.
Hol Bunhour’s father, Hol Sakon, wants his children can be educated and hopes all minority groups would have the same opportunities to obtain education as majority groups.
“I have three daughters and two sons and I sent all of them to study. In the past, ethnic people have no education and poor living conditions, now we have a right to get a good education and a job”
However, the path is not always easy.
“My son met with with difficulties such as different languages and culture and I also had to send some money to support his living expenses,” explained the elder Hol.
He is not concerned about the loss of their minority language as they continue to use the language in the family and in the village.
There are many ethnic-minorities in Cambodia and a rising number are pursuing their studies at universities in Phnom Penh. However, due thttp://seayouthsayso.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpo financial difficulties and traditional ethnic values, a large number of ethnic minority students, especially women, are still unable to attend universities.
Lenk hopes there will be more scholarships for minority students, “All ethnic minority people, especially women, should have access to education. We have to fight bravely to get what we want.”