Save the Children, a global network of nonprofit organisations headquartered in London, UK, is celebrating its Centennial Anniversary this month. Its Cambodian chapter will host a free public event on Friday to mark 100 years since the network’s founding.
In a press release, Save the Children in Cambodia said the celebration will be held at the capital’s Aeon Mall Sen Sok City.
Among the many expected attendees, representatives from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and Phnom Penh Crown Football Club players will be hosted as special guests.
A children’s football zone and reading zone with children’s books and read-aloud story times, to name a few, will be held to liven up the event.
This year’s theme Hope for the Future reflects the organisation’s objective to inspire hope for the future of all children in Cambodia.
“We know that all children have some idea of who they want to be in the future, but unfortunately not all children have the means to realise it."
“We want all children, no matter where they live or what their background, to realise their hope for the future,” Save the Children in Cambodia country director Elizabeth Pearce was quoted saying.
Separately, senior policy adviser and spokesperson for Save the Children in Cambodia Huy Khy on Tuesday told The Post: “During this special celebration we aim to increase public awareness and understanding on the importance of Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) and the need for increased investment.
“We believe that it [ECCD] is one of the smartest investments a country can make to address inequality, break the cycle of poverty and improve children’s lives and their future.”
ECCD refers to the holistic approach to the healthy and beneficial development of young children. It includes a child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development during the prenatal period and onwards through their early childhood years.
The government, Khy said, “has made a significant effort in improving ECCD services across the country through the adoption of the ECCD policy in 2010, and the accompanying 2014-2018 action plan”.
However, he agreed that access to early childhood education remains a challenge.
“During the 2018-2019 academic year, only 39.9 per cent of children aged three to five and 18.5 per cent of three-year-olds were accessing any form of educational services,” he said.
According to Khy, children living in urban areas are much more likely to attend an early childhood education programme than those living in rural areas.
“Not astonishingly, it is far more difficult for a child from a poor family in a rural area to benefit from ECCD than a child from an upper- or middle-class family in a large city with more resources and available services."
“At Save the Children in Cambodia, together with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, we focus our ECCD efforts in some of the most remote and marginalised communities in the country, such as the villages in and around the Tonle Sap lake, so that all children can benefit from it,” Pearce said.
Speaking to The Post on Tuesday, Education Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said the ECCD continued to be one of the “top priorities” for the government’s reform efforts.
The ministry, he said, is updating the national ECCD policy, with the draft “nearly finished and subject to final review”.
“We have achieved the objectives as outlined in the 2014-2018 action plan on EECD,” Soveacha said.
He said his ministry continued “making efforts by assessing past results and identifying present challenges while strengthening cooperation with relevant parties, such as the UN, civil society organisations and parents at the grassroots level”.