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Pandemic ‘opportunity to enact reforms’, says education minister

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Students wearing face masks leave Prek Leap Primary school in the capital’s Chroy Changvar district in 2021. Hong Menea

Pandemic ‘opportunity to enact reforms’, says education minister

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has continued to re-implement a full schedule of learning and teaching programmes across the county according to its standard operating procedures.

The goal is to resume educational activities on the same scale as prior to the pandemic, but with safety and health considerations taken into account, according to ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha.

“This practice is in reference to the spirit of a meeting to review the ministry’s work results for 2021 and direction for 2022 held on April 25-27, 2021, at the recommendation of [Prime Minister Hun Sen],” Soveacha said.

Yi Kim Than, Plan International Cambodia’s deputy country director for programmes, noted that most of the Kingdom’s children have now returned to school, and each school in the capital and province has implemented new learning and teaching programmes.

“We see that [the long period of school closures] has not had many negative impacts on the children as we have many programmes encouraging and urging them to return to study,” he said, adding that PIC would help support poor families in target provinces to allow children to return to school more easily.

The 2021-2022 academic year started in January. According to education minister Hang Chuon Naron, there is a total of 18,430 public and private schools across the country – 3,083 community kindergartens and 13,681 public schools, along with 1,666 private schools for grades 1-12.

There is a total of 3,589,025 students – 71,399 at kindergartens, 3,277,076 in public schools and 240,550 in private schools.

Across the country, there are 130 higher education institutions, with 48 of them state-run while the other 82 are private. A total of 198,363 students are studying at the higher education level, according to the minister.

“Despite two years of learning and teaching being disrupted partially by the Covid-19 crisis, we have continued to implement the reform programmes and turned this crisis into an opportunity,” Chuon Naron said.

The Cambodian National Council for Children and the Youth Council of Cambodia have also been active at schools, encouraging students to be “good children, good students and good friends” – a messaging campaign that hopes to improve studies and school self-management while boosting support for activity and student clubs, volunteer work and preparing for the grade 12 exams.

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