Plan International Cambodia (PIC), in collaboration with the Ratanakiri provincial Department of Education, Youth and Sport, has announced it will be rolling out a digital learning platform for the 2023-24 school year.

The project – “Enhancing Quality Learning for Out of School Children in Northeastern of Cambodia (EQUAL)” – will support 5,400 dropouts by giving them access to formal education.

It will give at-risk and other out-of-school children the opportunity to fulfil their right to education through a distance learning platform.

PIC acting country director Yi Kimthan explained that based on the Education Monitoring Information System data for 2021-22, the provincial admission rate was just 49.6 per cent, repetition 5.5 per cent, transition to lower secondary school 78.1 per cent and to upper secondary school 77 per cent.

“In particular, it is girls and young women in the northeastern provinces who face several challenges or barriers to education.

“These include limited school facilities for girls, limited protection systems, distant school campuses and limited qualified teachers,” he said.

To solve those challenges, he believes interventions are required to ensure all students receive positive learning outcomes and to increase enrolment rates for over-aged and out-of-school children. The distance learning platform may be a solution.

The EQUAL project was designed to address the issues surrounding girls’ and young womens’ right to education, along with out-of-school youth in remote and impoverished communities.

“The project will directly benefit a total of 5,400 students who are out of school – or at risk of dropping out – at 25 target schools in four of Ratanakkiri’s districts,” said Kimthan.

“We will install digital learning equipment in 10 lower and upper secondary schools in Taveng, Ochum, Angdoung Meas and Veurn Sai districts. The equipment includes computers, LCD projectors and internet connections for the classrooms,” he added.

The teachers in the provincial town and districts will and connect with students in rural areas via zoom or Google Meets, and the students will be able to interact and ask questions.

“We will begin the rollout in four subjects – mathematics, chemistry, physics and English – at eight lower secondary schools and three subjects – mathematics, chemistry and Khmer – at two upper secondary schools,” he explained.

The project will also provide regular mentoring to ensure that teachers are able to employ the latest teaching methodology. Semi-annual reflection and planning meetings will be held with teachers, district education offices, and the provincial education department, in order to strengthen the lessons.

“The project is aligned with the indicators of the primary education department under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport,” said Kimthan.

“By promoting and strengthening the implementation of the digital platform, we will close learning and teaching gaps, improve learning outcomes and decrease drop-out rates,” he said.