Cambodia is known internationally as a
success story of educational reconstruction and transformation following the
Khmer Rouge’s rule in the 1970s when much of the country’s education system was
destroyed. Significant progress has
been made since then with a huge expansion in the availability of schools and
children’s access to education. Education is a fundamental human right and is
indispensable for the achievement of sustainable development. We are only able
to empower girls, combat climate change, fight inequality and end extreme
poverty if all stakeholders, including business, commit themselves to advancing
the education goal. While Cambodia has improved overall access to basic
education, many children who inhabit the fringes of society, either because
they come from ethnic minority families or live with disabilities, still
struggle to get to and stay in class. In Cambodia, overcoming barriers of
language and disability are central to ensuring all children have an equal
chance 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 the
northeast. Most indigenous families make a living as subsistence farmers. Most
of these children do not speak the Khmer language, and teachers, in turn,
rarely speak indigenous languages. Mainstreaming education for children with
disabilities is increasingly gaining attention and response by government
officials who are working to eliminate education disparities.

 

Scaling up the Child-Friendly School
approach enables Cambodia to adjust traditional teaching methods to more
child-centered and child-friendly teaching and learning practices, laying an
educational foundation in which children are stimulated and equipped with the
necessary critical thinking skills that will influence future potential. Even
though good progress has been made, learning by rote, in which children are
taught to merely repeat after their teachers without understanding context,
still continues to be practiced. Child-Friendly Schools address persistent
challenges in the education system through a holistic approach to child
development and learning.

 

UNICEF works with government partners to
strengthen capacities at the national and sub-national levels to deliver
inclusive basic education. They also complement the work of organizations such
as Save the Children and Kampuchean Action for Primary Education to improve the
quality of education and increase enrolment of children in school. In terms of
quality, students graduating from grade 12 need improved and relevant knowledge
and skills for technical, vocational, and higher education. Many secondary
schools, especially schools in rural areas, lack quality inputs and in some
subject areas teachers, teaching materials and equipment, textbooks, sciences
labs, computer and language labs and library packages. Teaching style currently
characterized by formal lecturing, copying, recitation and memorization will be
shifted to encourage thinking and reasoning skills; teacher standards will be
implemented to better monitor, appraise and develop teacher performance. What
has been done in spite of this issue:

1.    
The Government has recognized the importance of providing opportunities in higher education and the importance to assuring
relevance and quality. 

2.     ASEAN integration will provide
opportunities for collaboration
between institutions, joint research and quality standard setting.  

3.     Advocate for policy
initiatives that codify the rights of children from ethnic minorities and children with disabilities
to receive an education.

4.     Support policies and
strategies in education that advance local governance reform, in accordance with Cambodia’s broader sub-national
democratic development process.

5.     Enhance the capacity of
district authorities to provide quality support to schools through the provision of electronic tablets and an
online information and management.

6.     Support to train teachers on
positive forms of discipline that are
in line with child protection principles.

7.      Child-Friendly Schools model in Cambodia
promotes six core dimensions:

a.     All children have access to
schooling.

b.     Effective teaching and learning.

c.     Health, safety and protection of
children.

d.     Gender responsiveness.

e.     Children, families and
communities participate in running their local school.

f.     
The National Education System supports and encourages schools to become
more child-friendly.