The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport along with its development partners began distributing over 760,000 home learning packets to young students affected by school disruptions and closures in Cambodia due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a joint press statement on September 28, a total of 760,180 home learning packets intended to support young children have been provided by the Capacity Development Partnership Fund (CDPF) partners – the EU, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
Delivery of the learning materials was under way this week and expected to reach every grades 1 and 2 student in all 7,304 public primary schools across the Kingdom’s 25 capital and provinces.
The statement said an additional set of materials has been developed to support 5,000 ethnic minority language students in Cambodia’s northeastern provinces so that they may learn using their own language.
The ministry noted that the majority of schools that have reopened are using a blended approach which combines face-to-face learning and home learning in order to reduce classroom sizes and split the student body into two separate scheduling shifts.
The home learning packets have been designed to support children in classrooms and at home, making them relevant and effective in all situations.
The packets include age-appropriate books and self-study materials to improve reading, writing, spelling and mathematics while complimenting the existing grades 1 and 2 curriculum. They also include information on how parents can support their children’s education and continue to protect them from Covid-19. All of that comes accompanied by a bar of soap and is delivered in an environmentally friendly, reusable bag, the press statement said.
“This has been a very challenging time for education around the whole world, including here in Cambodia. We appreciate the support of valued partners such as the EU, SIDA, USAID, GPE and UNICEF … in helping us support our students throughout this pandemic,” said education minister Hang Chuon Naron.
“These new materials will help to make this approach successful, and are particularly crucial to the 50 per cent of Cambodian students who cannot access online learning in their home. Thanks to this support our grades 1 and 2 students will be prepared when classrooms are fully open again,” he said.
EU ambassador to Cambodia Carmen Moreno said children at the primary school level must not be let down now and that they have a right to access education even within the difficult context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We know that paper-based learning is more effective for learning amongst this age group than online learning, which is why we have been so pleased to work in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia and all our CDPF partners to deliver the home learning packs,” she said.
Magnus Saemundsson, first secretary of the Swedish embassy in Phnom Penh, said education is not just good for the individual, but also good for nations. Investing in education is not just the right thing to do, it is smart economics.
“The closing of all schools in Cambodia to prevent the spread of the pandemic has resulted in a huge learning loss, like in many other countries across the world. Now, as schools are reopening in safe mode it is essential that blended learning using face-to-face and online learning be successful. This home learning packet will be most useful to enable this,” he said.
USAID Cambodia deputy mission director Hanh Nguyen said the materials were developed by Cambodian educators, education ministry experts, local authors and illustrators. They will serve as valuable resources for schools and communities not only during this period of Covid-19 disruptions, but for generations to come.
“USAID believes a dedicated team sharing their skills and technical expertise can produce concrete results that have far-reaching impacts,” she said.