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1 September 2022 - Story

A Dropout Young Student Returns to School and Wishes to Become a Doctor

San Rotana, a 9-year-old girl, who had earlier dropped out, has returned to school and been actively involved in various learning activities in the hope that she would become a doctor and be able to provide medical care to all her community residents.  

Rotana’s mother died in a drowning incident 6 years ago. Her 48-year-old father, Srey Sann, delivers seasonal work for others as a fisherman, making very little income on a daily basis. Both of them live in a small dilapidated house surrounded by walled tents, located in Kampong krachab village, Trapeang Chan commune, Kampong Chhnang’s Baribour district. Rotana’s sister and brothers moved out and are destitute. 

Rotana dropped out at the age of 7 because her father was not able to afford her food and school expenses. She was sent to live in Kampong Thom province with her aunt who kindly agreed to accommodate her. Rotana was asked to support her aunt in doing housework instead of going to school.  

Months later, Rotana learned to cook and clean on her own. Hence, she decided to ask her aunt for permission and return hometown and stay with her father. However, their livelihood remained miserable because her father was not able to make enough earnings. Sometimes, they had only one meal a day.  

“When my father went to work far away, I stayed home alone. I could cook but there was not anything much to cook since we did not have money to buy meat or vegetable. I sometimes ate rice with salt or fish sauce. Occasionally, our neighbors gave us food,” Rotana said.  

Krachab Primary School where Rotana used to study has reopened in November 2021 after frequent closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. This school is one of the target schools supported by the European Union’s Generating Resilient Environments and Promotion Socio Development of the East Tonle Sap Lack (GREEN) project with funding from the Technology and Access for Learning and Knowledge (Talk) project.  

In collaboration with the Provincial Department of Education, Youth, and Sport, the project conducted the first-ever Safe Back to School Campaign and visited parents and caregivers of children who had dropped out.  

Rotana’s teacher, Bun Nimol, during that time visited her house and explained to Rotana’s father to let her return to school. He said, “I was committed to bringing her back to school and fully supporting her to learn.”  

Rotana has finally returned to school and studied in grade 2 in the academic year 2021-2022. She has shown her passionate commitment to learning and sharing with other students.

Eventually, she was appointed as the class deputy president, rewarded with scholarships, and equipped with school supplies and a proper school uniform. Since then, Rotana’s livelihood has improved.  

“I want my daughter to be highly educated. I did not want her to be as illiterate as I,” said Rotana’s father, “I have planned to grow crops and vegetables around our house when I am employed.” 

According to the village chief, Mr Chhorn Norn, there were many children who share a similar experience as Rotana. Some have returned to school but some have not.  

“It’s obvious that Rotana came up to the light when she returned to school, I am committed to supporting all children in our village to return to school,” he said.