Cambodia gets a $20-million boost for early education

Cambodia gets a $20-million boost for early education
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Cambodia’s youngest and most disadvantaged students are set to receive a better education thanks to a new training programme for primary school teachers.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) in June announced a campaign called “Strengthening Teacher Education Programs in Cambodia” (STEPCam) that was funded by a $20.6 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). The program was launched on October 16, and will be piloted in public schools beginning on November 1, the start of the new academic year.

According to the GPE, the grant will particularly benefit children from disadvantaged groups, and will “foster effective teaching, leadership and management skills of education staff, including teachers, school principals, as well as local and national education service providers”.

This is the third consecutive GPE grant for Cambodia and will combine the efforts of the MoEYS, UNESCO, and UNICEF, as well as other education development partners including the European Union, Sweden, and the U.S. Agency for International Development

The new GPE program has two distinct components: a ‘fixed’ component of $14.4 million for STEPCam, which will target early grade teachers of primary education and teacher trainers at provincial teacher training centers; and a ‘variable’ component of $6.2 million that is linked to the achievement of specific results to improve education efficiency and learning outcomes.

The initiative also supports the MoEYS’s efforts to ensure quality education through continuous professional development for teachers.

‘Learn to learn’

Nath Bunroeun, Secretary of State, MoEYS, gives the first Early Grade Learning package to a Grade 1 teacher in preparation of the new academic year.
Nath Bunroeun, Secretary of State, MoEYS, gives the first Early Grade Learning package to a Grade 1 teacher in preparation of the new academic year All Children Reading – Cambodia

The programme aims to strengthen teacher skills in line with the Cambodian government’s Teacher Policy Action Plan and hopes to contribute to the development of a sustainable education system.

Nath Bunroeun, the MoEYS secretary of state, said the programme was focused on developing teachers for the early years because “Grade 1 is one of the most challenging grades to teach”.

“The students are still very playful and new to the school environment”, he said, adding “They need to learn how to learn and at the same time need to master the foundational literacy and numeracy skills”.

In its first year, the programme will train more than 1,500 Grade 1 teachers in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces. The training will include a new Khmer language model and an integrated approach to education.

In years 2 and 3, the programme will expand to three more provinces and also to other grade levels.

A total of 39 national trainers have started training the teachers on how to use the new materials.

The training methods are very hands-on, according to the GPE, and will continue throughout the school year.

‘New ideas’

Trainers conducted several mini-lessons using the new materials. On the sits Chea Samnang, an award winning first grade teacher.
Trainers conducted several mini-lessons using the new materials GPE/ Liesbeth Roolvink

Chea Samnang, a GPE trainer and an award-winning Grade 1 teacher, shared his excitement about the the new campaign.

“Before we only had the textbook, but now we have a teacher guide with clear lesson plans, a student book, story books, and picture cards. We now have many new ideas for different language activities,” he said.

“The teachers like this training because they practice a lot in small groups so they understand and experience how to use it in their own classroom. The students will really like it because they normally find Khmer very difficult. But with these different materials, it will be much easier and more fun, too”, he added.

Cambodia has partnered with the GPE since 2006. The combined efforts have strengthened Cambodia’s education system, including an increase in the primary school enrolment rate from 87 per cent in 2001 to 94 per cent in 2015. Cambodia has received two prior grants from the GPE totalling $95.6 million.

The GPE was launched in 2002 with a focus on improving education systems in developing countries. The organisation partners with developing countries, donors, international organisations, civil society, teacher organisations, the private sector, and foundations.


Feature photo GPE/ Liesbeth Roolvink




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Sreypov Men recently completed a course of study in International Relations at the Institute of Foreign Languages.

She commenced as an intern at AEC News Today and was appointed as a junior writer/ trainee journalist on April 2, 2018

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