New National Action Plan on Early Childhood Care and Development launched to ensure no child is left behind
Phnom Penh, 7th October 2022 – A new National Action Plan on Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) was launched today at a Phnom Penh event hosted by the National Committee for Early Childhood Care and Development. The National Committee includes 11 Government Ministries, and the event was attended by more than 250 government officials, alongside UNICEF Cambodia and other development partners. The Government committed more than $10 million for five years towards the realisation of the plan, prioritising an expanded early learning curriculum, improved teaching materials, and a strengthened preschool teaching workforce.
The new five-year National Action Plan will run from 2022 to 2026 and follows the previous plan covering 2014 to 2018. The Five-Year Plan is an inter-ministerial collaborative effort aimed at realising the Royal Government of Cambodia’s national vision for ECCD: “All Cambodian children, from conception to age under six, especially disadvantaged, vulnerable and poor children, shall be provided with care and development services, in line with the Constitution of the Kingdome of Cambodia.”
Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, the Minister for Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), spoke at the event. He said, “Cambodia has already enrolled 60% of five-year-old children in early childhood education programs and is now striving to reach the final 40% who don’t currently benefit from the life-changing impact of early learning. We encourage parents to play an active role in early learning, as pre-school teachers will also be working with caregivers to help them understand and support their children's lessons. We will continue to focus on high-quality teaching through conducting continuous teacher training, especially in inclusive and multilingual education.”
In Cambodia, there are an estimated 1.7 million children under the age of five, around 1 in 10 of the population. The future development of the country depends on providing the right care, support and education to help these young children develop. Early childhood offers a critical window of opportunity to shape the trajectory of a child’s holistic development and build a foundation for their future. For children to achieve their full potential, they need healthcare and nutrition, protection from harm, a sense of security and responsive caregiving. Early educational opportunities are particularly important given that in the first few years of life, more than one million neural connections are formed each second – a pace never repeated.
The Plan sets out five key priorities for the coming five years: (1) Provide opportunities for quality, equitable, and inclusive early childhood education; (2) Promote early childhood health and care; (3) Provide adequate nutrition to women and young children; (4) Ensure safety and security of young children; and (5) Provide responsive care, protection, and development for young children.
“The years between birth and the age of three are the most important in a child’s life, a period when the brain grows faster than at any other time,” said UNICEF Representative a.i, Dr. Anirban Chatterjee. “It’s an opportunity to put in place a foundation of nurturing care and education that will benefit these young Cambodians for the rest of their lives. There has been welcome progress in providing early education to more children, for example, this year, over 330,000 children between 3 and 5 have benefitted. But we need to redouble our efforts to reach those who currently miss out, particularly after the disruptions of the pandemic. UNICEF will continue to advocate for early childhood care and learning to be a national priority until no child is left behind.”
The National Action Plan was developed in consultation with all key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Council of Ministers, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Planning, and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery.
For more information, please contact
- H.E. Dr. ROS Soveacha, MoEYS Spokesperson
Tel: +855 78 755 556 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Bunly Meas, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Cambodia
Tel: +855 12 733 909 or e-mail: email@example.com
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.