Negotiating Children’s Work/School Balance: Cambodian Parents’ Rationales

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Ann Christin NILSEN, University of Agder, Norway
Randi WÆRDAHL, Oslo University College, Norway
Sophany SAN, Pannasastra University, Cambodia
Despite a decline in children’s work and an increase in school attendance, children remain to be a part of the workforce in Cambodia. It is widely assumed that child work is an effect of poverty and keeps children out of school. Moreover, child work is commonly associated with exploitation and maltreatment. Yet, several researchers have pointed out that children’s work may also be judged as educational. Seen in this light child work may not only occur out of necessity and at the cost of education, but may be a matter of choice. In Cambodia, research has revealed that a large share of children who do not attend school, neither work. This indicates that work cannot be perceived as the only barrier keeping children out of the classroom, but that it also should be addressed as a matter of choice and priorities.

In this paper, we explore parental rationales for child work. Based on data from qualitative interviews with parents in 20 households, located in an urban and a rural community in Cambodia, we address the following questions: What are the benefits of children working? What do the parents regard as a good work/school balance? Are the rationales the same or different for sons and daughters? The paper highlights and discusses the relevance of post-colonial perspectives to analyze parenthood and childhood across cultural contexts.