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Schools remain closed but strategy to reopen them ready for rollout

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Face mask-clad students have their temperature taken after arriving at their school compound in Phnom Penh on January 11, 2020. Hong Menea

Schools remain closed but strategy to reopen them ready for rollout

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport said it had determined the strategy to reopen schools when the February 20 community outbreak of Covid-19 ends.

The process of school reopening focuses on the principles of health and safety in line with the implementation of health measures in the education sector, according to ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha.

“Overall, the reopening of schools in the near future will focus on health and safety principles in line with the health measures to promote a new way of life in education,” he said.

“The ministry will inform the public later regarding information related to school reopening and other related aspects,” he said.

According to Soveacha, 85 per cent of the 158,000 teachers and educational staff members at all levels across the country have now been vaccinated.

He said that for now students across the country must continue to implement health guidelines including “the three do’s and three don’ts” and continue to study online, including with the ministry’s digital content.

The digital content consists of an e-Learning self-study programme with video tutorials for grades 1 to 12 along with digital textbooks and general reading materials and student proficiency tests in addition to the ministry’s educational information web pages.

Students can also download a self-study app from the App Store, Google Play and App Gallery to read the technical instructions included with the curriculum.

According to Soveacha, students can also access digital content through the ministry’s web page, Facebook page, YouTube channel and through the new educational TV channel TVK 2 that is operated by the Ministry of Information.

He said the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications also has an app and broadcasts education programmes over the radio to help indigenous students continue their studies and noted that there are also private sector apps such as E-School Cambodia.

Pech Bolen, president of the Federation of Education Services in Cambodia and CEO of Westline Education Group Co Ltd, said on May 23 that private education institutions supported the education ministry’s guidelines for measures to close or reopen schools because saving lives was more important than any other consideration.

“Private schools could reopen in August or September if permitted and this would be good for the financial sustainability of private education institutions,” he said.

Bolen also noted that for the past two years most private schools in the provinces – especially language and early childhood education schools – have decided to suspend their teaching due to the difficulty of online teaching and lack of funds.

He said schools that could operate online, especially in higher education, mostly benefit students who have a high standard of living or from high income families.

“Going forward, all private schools must come together to find solutions and jointly invest in developing [Cambodia’s] education system, especially online education. Schools that have invested in the new methods of education will have an opportunity for growth and those who do not may end up closing down,” he said.

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