Celebrating early grade learning in Cambodia

In March, Cambodia commemorates both National Reading Day and International Day of Mathematics. This is an opportunity for the ministry of Education, development partners, teachers and parents to celebrate the country’s success in continuing to improve learning outcomes in reading and mathematics and to acknowledge the efforts to keep learning going during the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 11, 2021 by Ilaria Vanzin, UNESCO
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3 minutes read
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Khmer literacy materials produced with STEPCam support.
Khmer literacy materials produced with STEPCam support.
UNESCO Cambodia

This week, Cambodia celebrates both National Reading Day and International Day of Mathematics with the international community. The Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS), development partners, teachers and parents are taking the opportunity to celebrate the country’s success in continuing to improve learning outcomes in reading and mathematics, and acknowledging the effort that went into keeping learning going during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the past three years, UNESCO’s Strengthening Teacher Education Program in Cambodia (STEPCam) in coordination with development partners played a critical role in strengthening early grade learning in Khmer literacy and mathematics across the country.

STEPCam is a four-year initiative implemented by UNESCO with financial support from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the Capacity Development for Education Program (CapED) to provide technical assistance to MOEYS to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the early grades.

It works across ministry’s technical departments and various development partners to equip teachers with the right tools, materials and training to make learning reading and mathematics fun and accessible for Grade 1 and 2 students.

By the end of 2020, it completed rolling out the new Khmer literacy teaching and learning materials package to teachers in four provinces. The rollout of the materials has been accompanied by rigorous in-service training of teachers and a newly instituted Early Grade School-Based Mentoring model that allows teachers to successfully absorb and apply the content in their classrooms.

Higher teaching quality means better learning results

School management has already begun to notice the results. Chanthol Pov who is the Vice Director of a primary school in Chhlong district in the northeastern province of Kratie, found that the students in her school began to read a lot more easily after implementation of the package.

“The flow of content provided in the teacher guide also made it easy for teachers to develop lesson plan and follow instructions”, she adds.

In November 2020, MoEYS endorsed the finalization and rollout of the new teaching and learning materials package for Grade 1 and 2 mathematics. In synergy with UNESCO’s Capacity Development for Education Program, STEPCam mobilized technical assistance to develop an inquiry- and play-based package for early grade mathematics.

An outcome of several consultative workshops where Grade 1 and 2 teachers were active participants, the package equips teachers to teach mathematics through an age-appropriate, inclusive and student-centered approach.

Trainer at a Khmer literacy teacher training.
Trainer at a Khmer literacy teacher training.
UNESCO Cambodia

The development and rollout of these packages has been a significant step forward in the teaching and learning of Khmer reading and mathematics in Cambodia.

School closures due to COVID-19 however, raised new challenges for Cambodian teachers and students. With STEPCam and CapED support, MoEYS produced teaching and learning videos and worksheets in literacy and mathematics to help teachers continue to support students in the absence of in-person classes.

Cambodian teachers rose to the challenge, working closely with parents to support students with learning while schools were closed. Chhav Chhengy, Grade 1 teacher from Kampong Cham province, relied on the various tools developed by STEPCam to work with her students.

“I shared the teaching videos produced by MoEYS with individual and group of parents to watch so they can assist their students with learning. I also shared the worksheets with the students and parents to complete, and then reviewed and sent back to them.”

Chhav Chhengy, Grade 1 teacher from Kampong Cham province.

While it was a difficult time for teachers, parents and students alike, this year’s National Reading and International Day of Mathematics gives us an opportunity to celebrate their ability to overcome a challenging period for education worldwide to keep learning going.

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Learning, Teaching quality
East Asia and Pacific: Cambodia

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