On April 29, 2022, an article in the Khmer Times highlighted a statement by the Cambodian Minister of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) mentioning early childhood as a crucial part of the school education reform. Indeed, the article mentions the renewed commitment of the MoEYS to promote and develop the early childhood sector but also the priorities set in this sense.
Indeed, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Mr. Hang Choun Naron recently emphasized that the government will focus on five priority areas to promote early childhood education as mentioned in the article. Krousar Yoeung Association, which has been dedicated for more than 20 years now to promoting access to quality pre-school education for all Cambodian children, welcomes this renewed commitment from the government to develop the early childhood sector.
The five priority areas recently mentioned by the government for promoting early childhood education are the following:
- to increase the number of public kindergartens (State Pre-schools) in primary schools
- to increase the number of standard kindergartens and convert community kindergarten into public schools (State Pre-schools)
- to establish day-care centers (or child-care centers) and to provide services to pregnant women
- to encourage parents to support early childhood education activities in the context of the education reforms
- to develop professionalism among teachers both in public (state pre-schools) and non-public schools.
These priorities reflect the significant challenges that remain in improving access to quality preschool education for all in Cambodia and that KrY has been working to address for over twenty years. The above cited priorities illustrate a recent shift in the government’s strategy which now prioritizes the opening of pre-school classes within primary schools’ compounds (State Pre-schools) over Community Pre-schools (CPS).
Following the government new strategy and priorities, KrY is also currently focusing its efforts on establishing new pre-school classes within primary schools’ compounds. Indeed, many of KrY’s activities and projects align with the government’s priorities and support its effort to promote early childhood education throughout the kingdom.
In fact, since the start of its Happy Cambodian Children Program (HCC Program) which is funded by the Kinchan Foundation, KrY has established and renovated more than 40 state (public) pre-schools in five provinces of Cambodia. Moreover, through its advocacy action with provincial and district authorities in the province of Preah Vihear for example, it is working to convert remaining CPS into SPS as this would increase the sustainability of those pre-schools. In the province of Preah Vihear, KrY’s team has also been carrying out parenting activities in the communities to raise awareness on the importance of early childhood education and activities.
Furthermore, through the Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC), KrY has been providing training to many new and already in post pre-school teachers to improve their professional practices and the quality of the education provided in pre-schools everywhere in Cambodia. Finally, the association is also currently exploring funding opportunities in order to launch a new pilot day-care project for women working in the tourism sector as child-care services are rare and expensive in the country.
Therefore, as the examples cited above show, many of KrY activities and projects are aligned with the five priorities recently mentioned by the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports to develop and promote early childhood education in Cambodia. By joining efforts with the government, KrY hope that its vision that “all Cambodian children receive care and development in an enabling environment with respect for their rights and needs” will soon become a reality.