Education

Situation

Early childhood education

Child-friendly schools

Ensuring sustainability

Ethnic minorities and children with disabilities

 

Ethnic minorities and children with disabilities

Mainstreaming education
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod

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. Because many of them practice slash and burn agriculture, they regularly migrate in search of arable land as part of a rotating farming method, living a transient existence that impedes their children’s ability to access stable and formal learning environments. Even when ethnic minority children can attend school, language constraints leave them lagging behind. 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. However, more needs to be done to help move these children from the margins to the mainstream school system. Although the inclusive education training module has been developed and approved by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, few teachers have so far been trained on how to properly respond to the special needs of physically and intellectually disabled children.

What we do

  • Advocate for policy initiatives that codify the rights of children from ethnic minorities and children with disabilities to receive an education.
  • Support the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to evaluate training needs and develop a framework to mainstream education for children with disabilities.
  • Support for a training manual and training of teachers on inclusive education for children with disabilities.
  • Support bilingual education programmes for different ethnic minority groups.

Mainstreaming education
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod

Impact

As a result of recent initiatives, children who had been neglected in the school system are now receiving muchneeded support through policy measures and ongoing training for teachers and education administrators. Pilot projects in educating ethnic minority children in the country’s remote north-eastern provinces and in mainstreaming education for children with disabilities in 18 provinces are beginning to inject equality into Cambodia’s education system.

Alongside pilot projects, in 2009 the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport developed the Guidelines on Implementation of Education for Indigenous Children in Highland Provinces, the first formal policy document on bilingual education, and the Policy and Master Plan on Education of Children with Disabilities, which supports inclusion of children with disabilities into the main education system as part of the Child-Friendly Schools approach.

 

 
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