Enhancing the Quality of Teacher Training for Inclusive Early Childhood Education
Teacher training is a driver of good quality education and critical to ensuring the right to quality education is achieved for every child. In light of the upcoming 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF Cambodia takes a look at its work with the Provincial and District offices of Education in Siem Reap ensuring quality teacher training for children with disabilities.
Siem Reap, August 2019 – The Head of Early Childhood Education Office of Provincial Office of Education (POE) in Siem Reap province, Thorn Syna, is promoting teacher training for Inclusive Early Childhood Education (IECE). She is motivated to continually improve this training and their strategy for disseminating the knowledge. “If teachers are trained more with practical skills, it can bring bigger impact on more children”, Syna says. Teacher training, conducted in 2014 in accordance with the National Policy for Inclusive Education, has been scaled up in 2018 and 2019 by POE and District Office of Education with support from UNICEF. In total, 464 preschool teachers in Siem Reap have been trained to support children with disabilities.
UNICEF Cambodia are assisting in the monitoring of the quality of this training. Syna visits preschools twice a month to monitor progress, noting proudly that, “children with disabilities are improving. Their behaviour has changed, and they are becoming more interactive with other children.” She explains, “before the training, teachers couldn’t identify children with disabilities. For example, if they see a child with autism, they thought that he or she only has speaking problem. After the training, teachers are proud to be able to identify and support children with disabilities and become motivated when parents appreciate it.” Now, according to Syna, preschool directors are showing strong leadership and teachers are going a step further by supporting parents with information on health care centres based on their child’s needs. Quality inclusive education requires commitment and positive attitudes from all school staff.
Syna is keen to boost creativity in teacher training. For new preschool teachers, teacher training can include not only the theory of inclusive education but also practical skills, role playing, and sharing successful stories from preschool teachers with more experience. Practical knowledge reinforced by other’s experiences can help new teachers gain a better understanding of what they can do in various situations. For the teachers who already received training on inclusive education, the POE can invite teachers to share messages on their skills and experiences.
Moreover, POE aims to raise awareness for inclusive education in the community, using radio, TV and school enrolment campaigns. “The community is becoming more open to children with disabilities and enrolling them to preschool,” says Syna. This is critical for reducing the stigma associated with disability that often prevents children from attending school. To assure the bright future of young children, including children with disabilities, POE, school directors, teachers cooperate to make the environment more supportive for children.
UNICEF is providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and Provincial Offices of Education to ensure education is inclusive in pre and primary schools across the country. In 2018, efforts were made to strengthen the capacity of national and subnational core trainers to lead cascade training to teachers to support children with disabilities in their classrooms and communities. As a result, 61 national and sub-national POE trainers were trained on inclusive education. In the academic year 2017-2018, the inclusive education programme was implemented in 183 state preschools and 64 community preschools in the seven provinces, including Siem Reap, Prey Veng, Kampong Thom, Battambang, Kratie, Rattanakiri and Phnom Penh, assisting 502 children with disabilities.