Optimism is returning to the education sector after all the despondency enveloping the economy – there are reasons to be upbeat with learners and educators back in school.
The Phnom Penh Post’s year-end education supplement features stories on how private schools are embracing a new normal in the Covid-19 reality to provide seamless education.
With most key sectors – from tourism, retail and entertainment to manufacturing and airlines – coming to a sudden halt after the outbreak, the Kingdom’s educational institutions managed to avert a learning crisis by continuing to deliver lessons to their students.
In the educational space, schools and universities, along with other higher learning institutions, were temporarily shuttered for months to avoid close contact among students to reduce the risk of infection.
Both public and private educational institutions across the Kingdom were closed in mid-March due to measures to combat the outbreak, with selected schools with the requisite facilities who best adhered to the government’s strict guidelines allowed to reopen in staggered phases from early September.
The Singapore (Cambodia) International Academy, the Australian International School of Phnom Penh (AISPP) and Westview Cambodian International School diligently introduced measures by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to ensure students could study in a safe environment to be among the first 20 allowed to open their doors again.
The ministry along with other stakeholders worked tirelessly to quickly design policies and regulations to meet the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A catalogue of measures – including physical distancing between students, checking body temperature, regular hand sanitising, the compulsory wearing of face masks and the introduction of e-learning infrastructures – were put in place effectively.
These workable efforts allowed students to return to their classrooms, while teachers continued their vocation with parents reassured.
The education sector is a pillar of the economy with its contribution to human capital development, which in turn is vital for economic progress and nation building. Learning has to go on.
Reopening schools is a significant step as it instils confidence in the education system and reflects the resilience of the sector.
But unlocking schools is only half the story.
As we move into 2021, all the mandatory safety regulations must be maintained at all times and at all cost. We face a challenge that requires the continued concerted and committed efforts of all those involved in the education industry, with the welfare of students more than ever at the top of the school agenda.