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The Rabbit School, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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Vocational trainings at the Rabbit School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

  • Labour : Adapted Work
  • Asia : Cambodia
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From Hun Touch the Nov 16, 2011

The Rabbit Café provides vocational training and helps young adults who graduated from the Rabbit School to integrate into society


After two decades of violence that included a genocide, an invasion, and civil war, Cambodia becomes peaceful again in 1993. The Rabbit School was created in Phnom Penh, the capital of the Kingdom, with the support of the Disability Action Council on behalf of the Ministry of Social Welfare. It is the first school to provide education to children with intellectual with disability. The work at the Rabbit School is based on the belief that children with disabilities have the same fundamental right as their fellow citizens to a decent life with equal dignity regardless of their origin, nature and severity of their and disabilities.

The purpose of vocational trainings

The Rabbit School has been adjusted to fulfil the children’s needs in order to reduce the severity of their disabilities and build their intellectual and physical capacity in a safe environment. The School’s objective is to integrate children with special needs into mainstream schools and communities through Integrated Education, Inclusive Education and vocational trainings to facilitate their professional path when they get older.
The Ministry of Social Welfare published a law leading to a Masterplan in 2008 which aims to improve the living conditions of children with disabilities. However, the new government does not seem to take the implementation of social policies which facilitate the integration of the same children, when they become adult, as a priority. The Rabbit School started involving in vocational training in order to accompany the former students who graduated in integrating socially and professionally into communities. These trainings aim to show and reveal to the society and employers the potential and competencies of these young adults who cannot speak for themselves.

How does the vocational training work? 

The 22 young adults now work at the Rabbit Café, the vocational training for graduated students. They are supervised by 3 teachers. It is a place where they can learn how to cook, make drinks, take orders and serve customers. Phnom Penh is a very touristic place, so there are many opportunities. In addition to cooking skills, the students are trained on how to produce handicraft, print t-shirts, etc. By doing so, they promote general income for their families. This is an important exit strategy for Rabbit School and it contributes to the global aim of community development in Cambodia.
Up to now, Cambodia has no policy or any regulations for disabled people. Therefore, the vocational training benefits from the support of international donors. These funds are used for marketing activities. Skilled volunteers, national and international, are also welcome.

Results and evaluation

At the Rabbit Café, people and organizations can see the former students of the Rabbit School work and this helps a lot with their integration into Cambodian society. About 8,000USD worth of products and food were sold through these activities in 2010, but this is not enough to cover the costs. It faces competition from other restaurants. New business plans have been made to attract more customers and increase profit margin. The Executive team is now looking for technical and financial support to improve the marketing and advertising strategy, making new and improved menus and training the staff and students to cook Asian and European food.
As a result of the lack of financial resources, the Rabbit Café has lowered its activities due to financial reasons. It is now performing t-shirt printing activities only and has reduced its staff number. Usually, people are more willing to donate when it comes to children than to young adults. The government doesn’t consider the vocational trainings as a priority either.
The Executive team is lobbying the government to provide means to challenged adults and implement appropriate social policies (e.g. quotas of disabled young adults in private companies located in Cambodia, etc.). They are also looking for technical support to tackle the specific needs of the challenged young adults, and provide appropriate trainings which would equip them with additional and useful skills to integrate into society.
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