Cambodia is known internationally as asuccess story of educational reconstruction and transformation following theKhmer Rouge’s rule in the 1970s when much of the country’s education system wasdestroyed.
Significant progress hasbeen made since then with a huge expansion in the availability of schools andchildren’s access to education. Education is a fundamental human right and isindispensable for the achievement of sustainable development. We are only ableto empower girls, combat climate change, fight inequality and end extremepoverty if all stakeholders, including business, commit themselves to advancingthe education goal. While Cambodia has improved overall access to basiceducation, many children who inhabit the fringes of society, either becausethey come from ethnic minority families or live with disabilities, stillstruggle to get to and stay in class. In Cambodia, overcoming barriers oflanguage and disability are central to ensuring all children have an equalchance to learn and grow together.
Cambodia has an estimated 20 ethnic groups,the majority of whom live along the country’s isolated, mountainous rim in thenortheast. Most indigenous families make a living as subsistence farmers. Mostof these children do not speak the Khmer language, and teachers, in turn,rarely speak indigenous languages. Mainstreaming education for children withdisabilities is increasingly gaining attention and response by governmentofficials who are working to eliminate education disparities. Scaling up the Child-Friendly Schoolapproach enables Cambodia to adjust traditional teaching methods to morechild-centered and child-friendly teaching and learning practices, laying aneducational foundation in which children are stimulated and equipped with thenecessary critical thinking skills that will influence future potential. Eventhough good progress has been made, learning by rote, in which children aretaught to merely repeat after their teachers without understanding context,still continues to be practiced. Child-Friendly Schools address persistentchallenges in the education system through a holistic approach to childdevelopment and learning.
UNICEF works with government partners tostrengthen capacities at the national and sub-national levels to deliverinclusive basic education. They also complement the work of organizations suchas Save the Children and Kampuchean Action for Primary Education to improve thequality of education and increase enrolment of children in school. In terms ofquality, students graduating from grade 12 need improved and relevant knowledgeand skills for technical, vocational, and higher education. Many secondaryschools, especially schools in rural areas, lack quality inputs and in somesubject areas teachers, teaching materials and equipment, textbooks, scienceslabs, computer and language labs and library packages. Teaching style currentlycharacterized by formal lecturing, copying, recitation and memorization will beshifted to encourage thinking and reasoning skills; teacher standards will beimplemented to better monitor, appraise and develop teacher performance. Whathas been done in spite of this issue:1.
The Government has recognized the importance of providing opportunities in higher education and the importance to assuringrelevance and quality. 2. ASEAN integration will provideopportunities for collaborationbetween institutions, joint research and quality standard setting. 3.
Advocate for policyinitiatives that codify the rights of children from ethnic minorities and children with disabilitiesto receive an education.4. Support policies andstrategies in education that advance local governance reform, in accordance with Cambodia’s broader sub-nationaldemocratic development process.5. Enhance the capacity ofdistrict authorities to provide quality support to schools through the provision of electronic tablets and anonline information and management.6. Support to train teachers onpositive forms of discipline that arein line with child protection principles.
7. Child-Friendly Schools model in Cambodiapromotes six core dimensions: a. All children have access toschooling.b. Effective teaching and learning. c. Health, safety and protection ofchildren. d.
Gender responsiveness.e. Children, families andcommunities participate in running their local school. f. The National Education System supports and encourages schools to becomemore child-friendly.