Ministry of Education Expands the Early Grade Learning Programme with CDPF Partners
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, supported by the Capacity Development Partnership Partners, organised tailored teacher training to improve early grade reading and numeracy for young learners
"One of the biggest challenges in educating children in rural areas, along with limited technologies and equipment in schools, is when teachers’ lack the core pedagogical skills," says Ms Prom Kamsot, a teacher at Aknukvath Primary School in Kampong Speu province.
From 17 to 20 December 2022, Ms Kamsot and colleagues from nearby primary schools attended training that prepares teachers and mentors to implement the Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Programme. “Literacy and numeracy skills are the most important basics that we need to instill in young learners, as they influence the whole future of children. Therefore, I was excited to hear that we were invited to attend training that helps improve our expertise in teaching children these life-changing skills," says Ms Kamsot, who has over 27 years of teaching experience.
The Early Grade Learning (EGL) programme is being implemented by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) of Cambodia with the support of the Capacity Development Partnership Fund (CDPF) III, comprised of the European Union (EU), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish international Development Agency (Sida), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF. The CDPF partners provide technical and financial support to the scaling up of the EGL programme, in close collaboration with partners such as VVOB and RTI, to support MoEYS to expand the programme to all 25 provinces in the next four years.
Teachers and other key stakeholders, including primary school directors and members of the Provincial and District Offices of Education, are being trained in teaching methods in addition to facilitation skills, classroom management, and gender-responsive pedagogy. 113,228 students, 3,405 teachers and 2,473 school directors will receive Early Grade Reading and Mathematics learning materials supported by the CDPF when the new school year starts.
"The training improved my knowledge and skills in teaching Maths and reading, as well as effective interaction with students and parents. My favourite part of the training was working in small groups with teachers from other schools where we shared our experiences and exchanged ideas on classroom management techniques," says Mr Lon Chat Tra, a deputy director of the Oral District Office of Education, Kampong Speu.
“MoEYS has significantly improved access to education in Cambodia, but we continue to see children who are not reaching desired learning outcomes. In particular, reading and mathematics performances are far below desired levels. UNICEF is pleased to be working with MoEYS and partners to scale up EGL in Cambodia, which we believe will greatly improve the foundational skills of Cambodia’s youngest learners,” says Hiroyuki Hattori, UNICEF Cambodia’s Chief of Education.
The new training is just the latest measure that MoEYS and the CDPF have taken to support young learners. Last year, the CDPF also supported primary schools across Cambodia with Home Learning Packages, an extensive array of educational products developed to help children catch up with the school curriculum at home following COVID-related school closures. That teachers are now being oriented to continue teaching such content during the EGL training.
Ms Sam Chanta is a parent of two early-grade students in Kampong Chhnang province and appreciates these efforts to keep her children learning. “The truth is that it’s really hard just to teach children through television or a smartphone, especially for younger ones. The [EGL] books are useful and beautiful.”
Ms Lon Srey Mom, a teacher at Sampov Primary School in Kampong Speu, says that her school has taken the idea even further by creating a Telegram group to support parents in keeping their children’s home learning on track.
"The package delivered by the CDPF helped students to learn at home in a fun way. Books and other materials developed children's creativity and kept them educated and engaged. We also keep some of the Packages in the school library so students can enjoy them any time they want," says Ms Lon. "Now, I would like to thank all involved supporters of the Early Grade Learning Programme as it will go further in building a strong foundation for every child's educational journey and, as a result, support the development of Cambodia."
The expansion of EGL in the 2022-2023 academic year is the largest single scale-up to date. The CDPF is working closely with MoEYS to roll out the Early Grade Literacy (EGL) programme to all Grade 1 students in eight provinces (across 1,582 primary schools) and Early Grade Mathematics (EGM) to all Grade 2 students in four provinces (across 891 primary schools). It will ensure that students in the lowest grades of primary education receive a solid educational foundation of good numeracy and literacy before they advance to higher grades.