33 students in Year 3 and 4 of JWOC’s University Scholarship Program have begun identifying the key issues affecting them as youth. The topics range from social media use, to plastic, health problems, reading and lack of clear life goals. After brainstorming these issues, the students began to identify the key stakeholders, including their parents, siblings, peers, University professors, employers and other NGOs.

We invited some of these stakeholders to join the students as they completed their problem and objective trees, giving them the opportunity to identify the root causes and potential effects these problems can have on youth and their families.

Here is a spotlight on some of the projects being explored:

Youth lack clear life goals

The students identified the key causes of students not having clear life goals as being due to a lack of opportunities and confidence, a poor understanding of goal setting, family pressure pushing them in certain directions, and a lack of positive role models.

The impact of such issues included low satisfaction with their career or income, disappointment with life, potential mental health issues, a young generation with low skills, high rates of unemployment and the creation of a vicious cycle that could be repeated without appropriate intervention.

Youth don’t read enough

The students in this group identified the key causes of low reading rates among youth to be attributed to a lack of time and money to buy books, not enough books in Khmer, poor variety, and the distractions from social media. 

The unintended consequences included low critical thinking, and not encouraging the next generation to read, which could create a continuous loop of low literacy and engagement with books.

Youth over-use plastics

This group said the main causes of youth over-using plastic is because they lack choices that are convenient, they don’t have good habits about using alternatives or aren’t aware of their existence. They also said that youth simply might not even know that it is a problem, where it comes from or where it goes after it’s used.

The group also identified the key consequences such as the negative impact on the environment, including the loss of resources, animals, and the creation of more and more single use plastics.

What’s next?

The students visited 3 projects in Siem Reap to inspire them before they begin to plan their own activities. They saw an exhibition by a young Cambodian photographer, an inclusive space for LGBTQI+ people, and visited a social enterprise making educational toys out of plastic bottles. 

We are excited to see how our students’ projects will continue to develop! Thank you again to the Collette Foundation for supporting our Youth Leadership Program.


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