Education: The new profit-making tool

By Brianna Randall

During my time here, I have been repeatedly informed of the lack of value placed on education within the Khmer culture. With a large number of single-parent homes, it is common that mothers cannot always afford to send their children to school, allowing generational poverty.

But today my adopted perspective on the issue was challenged as I was leaving Angkor Thom and approached by a child beggar who surprisingly used her education to make a sale. Hoping to impress me, she correctly named the capitol, current president, and population of the United States. This is almost more than even I, an American college student, knew about my country.

“Now buy?” she asked.

“Don’t,” whispered interpreter Lunh. “If you do, they’ll keep doing this, no school.”

“Go to school,” I said to the child, declining the offer for the sixth and last time.

I fretted about the potential wasted in this child labor. But, with so strong an incentive to sell, maybe these wide-eyed, innocent faces know more than we assume. They may not be sitting in a classroom in white and navy uniforms before a chalkboard, but they are learning the skills vital and useful to the lifestyle in which they were born.

They are learning the lessons needed to survive: persistence, compromise, and strategy.

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