Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New education aid announced for floating villages

New education aid announced for floating villages

People attend the launch of a project in Phnom Penh yesterday aimed at providing early childhood education to young children in 137 floating villages.
People attend the launch of a project in Phnom Penh yesterday aimed at providing early childhood education to young children in 137 floating villages. Heng Chivoan

New education aid announced for floating villages

More than 13,000 vulnerable children in 137 floating villages along the Tonle Sap river and Tonle Sap lake in Kampong Chhnang and Pursat provinces will have access to early childhood education under a $2.7 million project announced yesterday.

Beginning mid-2017, children 5 and younger will have access to services that currently don’t exist in their communities, which stretch across nine districts, said Out Sarang, education program manager with Save the Children in Cambodia.

“The communities that were selected do not yet have any community-based or government pre-schools,” Sarang said, adding that it was due to the remoteness of the area.

The new endeavour is being funded by the Japan Social Development Fund through the World Bank, and was coordinated by Save the Children in Cambodia, the Ministry of Education and other partners.

During the 2015-16 school year, the coverage of early childhood education in the Kingdom stood at 64.7 percent, compared to 61.4 percent in 2014-15. However, only 11 percent of children in rural and remote areas have access to such service, said Elizabeth Pearce, country director for Save the Children in Cambodia.

It’s the country’s goal to have 100 percent coverage of early childhood education by 2030, according to Ministry of Education Secretary of State Kim Sethany.

Sum Sopheak, chief of early childhood education in Kampong Chhnang, said this program will help improve the lives of children. “Children will be exposed to an education environment at a stage where they can develop and grow,” she said.

Though floating villages are often inhabited by ethnic Vietnamese fishermen who can face barriers to accessing government services, only a few of the targeted communities in this project are ethnically Vietnamese, Sarang said.

However, access to early education in such communities is even lower than the national average. A 2014 investigation by the Minority Rights Organization found that only 9 percent of ethnic Vietnamese children in communities of almost 5,000 in Kampong Chhnang went to school. The main barrier was that they had to submit a birth certificate to enrol.

Children in the targeted areas who meet the age requirement will be eligible for the benefits, even if they don’t have a birth certificate or regardless of background, political or religious views.

“We are working for the best interest of the children,” Sarang added.

Eang Vuthy, executive director of Equitable Cambodia, said it was a good program, but his concern was its sustainability.

“I see many programs come in and out,” he said. “They need to have a long-term plan.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio