Kvas Em, an eight-year-old girl in Ms Reap’s class was very appreciative of the fact that she could learn in her native Tumpoun language, at home with support from her teacher.
“I love the songs in the radio programs the most, because they use rhyme in our language to teach us about the national Khmer language,” she explained. “The songs are very beautiful but also help us to remember what we were learning before COVID-19 happened. I would like to get more study materials like this in the future, it helps us learn by ourselves.”
Ms Reap explained that monitoring and supporting each student’s progress has been one of the biggest challenges during the pandemic, but the specially designed content for multilingual students made things easier.
By the end of December 2020, about 3,110 students in Ratanakiri had received learning materials such as books, pencils, pens and worksheets for studying alongside the radio program. “The teachers at my school, including me, designed a weekly schedule with activities and objectives and made adjustments as we saw how each student was doing,” Reap explained.
“Livelihoods have really been harmed by COVID-19,” Reap concluded. “Families are struggling to survive, and sometimes this means that children are helping with the income. We need to make sure that parents remember that learning is as important as income and that parents are motivated to support their children in these new learning arrangements.”
UNICEF pledges to work with the Government and all education partners to support teachers like Ms Reap as they strive to keep all children’s educational dreams alive.
About Multilingual Education Program:
Reap has been one of the frontline teachers implementing Cambodia’s Multilingual Education Action Plan (MEAP) since its launch in 2015. This action plan was designed by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, with UNICEF’s support, to provide a curriculum-based multilingual education to indigenous girls and boys, starting in pre-school and continuing through the first three years of primary school.
The multilingual education is targeted at five indigenous ethnic minority groups, Bunong, Kavet, Kreung, Tampuan, and Brao, in the North-Eastern provinces of Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Kratie, Preah Vihear, and Stung Treng.
This Plan is the first time a Government in South East Asia has committed itself to an education strategy which embraces indigenous languages to increase educational availability for all. It is one of the Government’s strategic development priorities and is supported by extensive international research evidence proving the positive contribution that multilingual education can make to children’s participation in education and society.