Evaluation of the Multilingual Education National Action Plan in Cambodia

The meaningful multilingual education of Indigenous girls and boys in preschool and in the first three years of primary school.

Chea Lach uses flash cards to teach in two languages, Kreung and Khmer
UNICEF Cambodia/2018/Antoine


The 2014-2018 Multilingual Education National Action Plan (MENAP) was launched by the Royal Government of Cambodia in 2015. The plan has been implemented by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, in collaboration with UNICEF Cambodia and Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), and in consultation with other stakeholders in Cambodia. The goal is to increase access to meaningful education of Indigenous girls and boys by providing them with multilingual education in preschool and in the first three years of primary school. A multilingual education curriculum is available in five Indigenous languages (Bunong, Kavet, Kreung, Tampuan, and Brao). It is offered in Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Kratie, and Stung Treng in preschools andprimary schools where there are high numbers of​​​​ Indigenous children. It is also offered in six preschools in one district in Preah Vihear. The initiative uses a  bridging model whereby children begin learning in their Indigenous language while slowly transitioning to Khmer, the national language of instruction, and the national curriculum in Grade 4.

The plan is unprecedented in Southeast Asia for its government commitment to using Indigenous languages to promote equity. It is consistent with the Government’s strategic development priorities and with numerous international rights frameworks and supported by international research evidence of the positive contributions that multilingual education can make to children’s participation in education and society. This plan is a bold and well-informed step that is a first among countries in the region.

MENA Cover
Jessica Ball and Mariam Smith
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