Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CSO's call for emergency increase in efforts to overcome lasting impacts of school closures

CSO's call for emergency increase in efforts to overcome lasting impacts of school closures

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Schools were closed during Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. POST STAFF

CSO's call for emergency increase in efforts to overcome lasting impacts of school closures

Four civil society organizations issued a joint press release on July 13 calling on the government, donors and relevant partners to increase their level of response to the loss of study time experienced by Cambodian students due to the school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Education spokesperson, however, said that the ministry had already introduced a seven-point plan to respond to this crisis.

The four organizations - World Vision, Kampuchea Action to Promote Education (KAPE), NGO Education Partnership (NEP) and CARE Cambodia also held a workshop on July 14 about “addressing loss of studies through additional training in Cambodia” to encourage all relevant partners to respond to this aspect of the Covid-19 crisis in Cambodia.

Their press release said that over the two years of the pandemic the government had shut down in-person schooling and operated remotely in Cambodia for longer than any other country in the region, adding up to more than half of each of two academic school years in 2020-2021.

“At that time, there were activities supporting students to help them to continue their studies during the closures, but they still faced challenges. Distance learning proved less effective, leading to gaps in studies at all levels.

"Similarly to Thailand, Cambodia is facing a crisis of children missing out on large portions of their studies. It will continue affecting students’ lives and the development of the nation in the future if no solution is found,” press release said.

Var Sorin, World Vision's education programme manager, said that this new challenge must be addressed now.

“We've identified the problem of gaps in the children’s studies. But through the implementation of pilot training projects in some communities we've seen that children are able to catch-up with their studies to get back to where they were before the schools were closed.

"To support the students, we need to mobilise them and we need the participation of all relevant partners, especially the Ministry of Education, development partners and civil society organizations,” he said.

After the schools were reopened late in 2019, the government undertook several measures to support the training of children and address the gaps in their studies by developing a condensed curriculum for students in grades 2-6.

However, the CSOs said that the implementation of these measures still faced many challenges, including limited resources at schools in remote areas and teachers’ capacities to adapt to the new material.

Phan Bunnat, coordinator at KAPE, said that over half of Cambodian children have not yet caught up with the curriculum to reach the point in their studies they should be at normally.

“We must have an emergency coordinated response to the schools’ needs for more training. Not only to respond to the Covid-19 school closures over the long term, but also we must create support for more training until the situation returns to normal,” he said.

Vera Ushurova, coordinator at NEP, recommended that the education ministry continue to push for operations at schools and implement digital education reforms and improvements.

“However, we must not forget poor and needy students and we must ensure that we introduce measures to reduce drop-out rates, especially in remote and poor areas. And we must consider incorporating knowledge of technology in our annual student and teacher assessments and strengthen the capacities of teachers and school management to solve this study crisis,” she said.

Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said on July 13 that the ministry had already introduced a seven-point plan to respond to the crisis which acknowledged that the pandemic had disrupted the education sector in Cambodia involving some 3.2 million students.

“We introduced this plan to solve the problem of the loss of studies and increase the results of studies at the primary level. Schools can use and choose one possible action or more in-line with the practical situation, context, financial resources, resources of teachers and material resources of the schools themselves to achieve a post-pandemic studies recovery,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen