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Students of the prestigious Cambridge Preschool in Cambodia at a graduation ceremony. Photo supplied

Singaporean education system making waves in Cambodia

In the past five years, there has been a spate of early childhood schools establishing in Cambodia that have adopted the principles of Singapore’s highly regarded education method.

These schools, such as ICS International School, Raffles Montessori, and Cambridge Preschool are seemingly gaining popularity among Cambodian children hailing from high-income and high-ranking officials’ families.

Cambridge Preschool, is one such franchised Singaporean preschool and kindergarten in Cambodia established since 2010.

Chy Meng, director of the school, said, “Western and Singaporean systems of education have their own unique strengths, but I am sure that both can provide excellent education for children in Cambodia.”

However, “In our six-year experience, we find that implementing Singaporean education might be more appealing to Cambodian families and children because both countries are located in Asia,” Meng said.

The prestigious Raffles Montessori International School of Phnom Penh, (RMISPP) is another of Cambodia’s licensed school networks implementing a Singaporean approach to education.

“RMISPP believes that good education starts from a solid foundation, therefore we provide very high quality programs for children from the ages of 18 months to six years old,” Sok Sambath, managing director of RMISPP, said.

Sambath added, “We are inspired by Singapore’s education standards, and we know that physical, social and emotional developments are as important as intellectual improvement in early childhood education.

“This is why we brought the concept of Montessori, and in particular, the Raffles Montessori, to Cambodia.” Montessori schooling is a child-centred educational method developed by Maria Montessori more than 100 years ago and places emphasis on a child’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.

Sambath said that in the past five years, RMISPP had had many success stories with regards to its students.

“Our students are not just growing to become excellent English language speakers, but they also gain great knowledge and skills for their learning journey,” he said.

Meng agreed, saying, “At Cambridge Preschool, we want to help our children open future doors of opportunities.”

“Cambodia has gone through many changes in the past years and we are sure it will evolve to be a different place from what it is now,” Meng added.

Meng has high hopes for the future of Cambodia, saying that in twenty years he believes many of today’s youth could one day end up working as engineers, film directors or athletes.

“We seek to focus on helping our children explore and nurture their interests early in life so they will be ready for the new challenges when they join the workforce in Cambodia, or even in other countries,” Meng said.

Dr Seng Sopheap is the father of 8-year-old Seng Sunehri who has been a student of ICS International School for five years.

Sunehri was only six years old when she joined a competition called “English Spelling and Writing”, jointly organised by the Singapore Club Cambodia and the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education in 2013. She was awarded the first prize.

Sopheap said, “I do agree that my daughter’s studies in ICS have made her an outstanding student. In fact, Sunehri got first place in the primary education level of the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) primary & junior challenge 2015-2016 organized by IIG Education on July 1, 2016.”

“ICS is a branch from Singapore which gets its education system from Cambridge school in England. Its staff pool is a variety of nationalities including Cambodians, Singaporeans, and others.”

However, Sopheap admitted that tuition for the high-level schooling institute was quite expensive, setting him back between $5000 and $6000 a year for his daughter’s enrolment.

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