UNESCO, in cooperation with the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), has expanded the scope of literacy programmes for adults working at garment factories across the country.

Sao Kanharoat, senior programme assistant at the Cambodian Garment Training Institute (CGTI), told The Post on March 29 that UNESCO and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport had overseen the Factory Literacy Programme (FLP) since its inception.

Now, in partnership with GMAC through CGTI, the ministry and UNESCO would ensure that the programme is more inclusive.

“CGTI will participate in the literacy programme by setting up some vocational training courses for garment workers so that they acquire other skills that may be useful throughout their lives – not just skills related to working in factories,” she said.

She added that after finishing the literacy course, they would be able to read letters and numbers at Grade 4 or 6 level of competency at minimum.

The literacy course is equivalent to a basic reading education in a primary school accredited by the education ministry, but learning literacy is an important bridge for them to continue on with learning other vocational skills, she explained.

“As a first step, we try to teach them about self-development of skills, showing leadership and the paths they can follow in order to learn technical skills. This will open up their career advancement opportunities for them so they can become division heads or managers at their factories some day,” Kanharoat said.

Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said on March 29 that the ministry was thankful to all of development partners for their assistance with initiating this programme, which was in line with the Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023 and the advancement of informal education in Cambodia.

“Through this literacy programme at garment factories from 2016 until today we’ve had 2,063 workers who have become fully literate with both letters and numbers and who are now using those skills at work and in their day-to-day lives at 25 partner factories in 12 provinces,” he said.

The FLP was launched by UNESCO and the education ministry in 2016 as a targeted initiative to upskill factory workers and help close the professional skill gap in the garment, footwear and apparel industry.

Learners who pass the course’s final exam are provided a certificate of completion by their local provincial offices of education. The certificate is recognised by the education ministry as the equivalent of completing Grade 4 of a formal education.

This year, UNESCO and the education ministry will be introducing new textbooks that will provide learners with the option to also obtain a Grade 6 equivalency. Overall, the programme has had an impressive 72 per cent completion rate among those who have enrolled to date.