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English instruction to expand to new grades

Children attend class at a school in Phnom Penh. English classes will soon be included in the curriculum for grades 4, 5 and 6.
Children attend class at a school in Phnom Penh. English classes will soon be included in the curriculum for grades 4, 5 and 6. Vireak Mai

English instruction to expand to new grades

The Ministry of Education on Saturday announced that it has included English language instruction in the primary school curriculum for grades four through six in order to give students a foundation in the language, though experts were unsure how effective the courses would be since the ministry lacks qualified teachers.

The statement, signed by Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron on Wednesday, says students in the grade levels will have English lessons twice a week for 40 minutes beginning this school year. In 2013, the ministry introduced English in fourth grade, but as of 2016, it was only being taught in some schools.

But Chin Chanveasna, executive director for the NGO Education Partnership, said despite English being introduced in the fourth grade years ago, there is still a “lack of English teachers”, and some received only one or two months of training. “That’s not really effective,” he said. “That’s not really adequate.”

The ministry asked the heads of primary schools to assign teachers with English knowledge or those who received training on the curriculum, according to the statement. Schools that don’t have English teachers availablemust recruit and train staff with language knowledge.

San Chey, executive director of Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said the expanded English instruction was a good move, but concerns over a shortage of teachers is still an issue.

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