In an agreement signed at the Embassy of Japan in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA) received a $529,068 grant from from the Japanese government to carry out its projects aimed at improving early childhood education in Battambang.
In a press release, the embassy said: “The government of Japan has agreed to award financial assistance to SVA under the framework of the Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects”.
The project’s objective to “improve the quality of early childhood education in Battambang city through the establishment of a model preschool equipped with library and capacity building for preschool teachers and librarians” were also underlined.
Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Hidehisa Horinouchi said that at least 450 children in the proposed preschool would benefit from a better learning environment, with a further 10,000 in the province envisaged to receive more effective early childhood education.
“This organisation [SVA] will establish a library-oriented model preschool to promote reading and to improve the capacity of preschool teachers in Battambang city in order to enhance the quality of infant education and develop a better learning environment for the children. Through this project, I hope that activities of the library will spread all over the province and infant education in Battambang city will grow well,” he said.
The embassy stated that since 2002, the Japanese government granted over $35 million to assist 114 projects in the Kingdom, particularly in the fields of primary education, health, agriculture and mine clearance.
SVA country director Takashi Kase said his organisation is determined to achieve the highest quality of early childhood education through the establishment and promotion of a library at the Thonthean Preschool in Battambang.
“Currently, there are about 50 students in each class at the preschool. It exceeds the limit set by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport by almost double. Without other options, teachers face difficulty in teaching and the class is too small for the students."
“Both teachers and students find it hard to carry out activities in the class. Consequently, those children often lose opportunities to learn effectively,” he said.
The creation of a new preschool, Kase added, would reduce the number of students in each class to the appropriate number.