(ANS – Battambang) – Students from the “St. Anne Orphanage” were granted scholarships to attend Don Bosco Vithayalai in Battambang, Cambodia, thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The scholarships were provided in February 2022 and May 2021.

Children attending Salesian schools in Cambodia have faced a number of issues including abandonment from their families, abuse, child labor and trafficking, and migration. As a result, they often miss school and fall behind academically. Salesian schools ensure that young students are able to attend school even if they are unable to pay for it.

“Don Bosco schools are important for poor students to gain an education for later skills training,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Not only is education about learning to read and write, it provides a foundation for a career and a secure livelihood. Salesian educational programs bring new hope for Cambodian students and their families.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia was a world leader in economic growth and poverty reduction. It sustained an average growth rate of 7.7 percent between 1995 and 2019, and graduated to a lower middle-income economy in 2015, according to the World Bank. The government has implemented policies to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on businesses and people’s incomes and to support economic recovery. Still, the poverty rate rose to 17 percent as a result of the pandemic.

While Cambodia achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty in 2009, the vast majority of families who escaped poverty were only able to do so by a small margin. Around 4.5 million people remain near-poor, vulnerable to falling back into poverty when exposed to economic and other external challenges.

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