A global pandemic has closed all schools in Cambodia, affecting over 3 million children across the country. The scale of the crisis threatens to roll back years of progress and leave the most vulnerable deprived of essential services in education, child protection, health, nutrition and water - and the impact could span generations.
Giving children alternative ways to learn and rebuilding a routine has been a critical part of UNICEF’s response. Together with Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), UNICEF is working to ensure the continuation of learning for all children, especially the most disadvantaged and marginalized, while schools are closed amidst the current COVID-19 community outbreak.
To give school directors and teachers guidance and practical tips on how to conduct teaching and learning during the pandemic, MoEYS and UNICEF developed a Safe Operation of Schools in the Context of COVID-19 handbook. This handbook was distributed to all 13,000 schools and 3,000 community pre-schools in Cambodia.
The handbook not only incorporates information on COVID-19, but also focuses on health and safety, teaching and learning, inclusiveness, wellbeing and protection of children – principles that should be carefully considered during school reopening and in situations where school are issued to reclose again.
Mr. Proeun Pronh, the school director of Aranhraingsei school described, “My school received 15 copies of the Back to School handbook, one for each teacher. The booklet has very clear instructions on how to operate a school during the pandemic. After studying the booklet, we decided to prepare more handwashing areas, make sure that all toilets are operational, and prepare first aid kids and disinfection materials in our school.”
“We also set up a committee to perform different tasks such as doing temperature checks at the school entrance, disinfecting classrooms on a daily basis, and monitoring mask wearing and social distancing in the school premises. We remind students of social distancing and hand washing at least once every hour.”
Ms. Nhuon Sopheap, a grade 7 teacher at the Aranhraingsei school added, “After reading the booklet, I understand more about the symptoms of a person affected by the virus, and measures that can be taken to prevent its spread”.