Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport, has officially endorsed the Khmer Grade 3 Early Reading Package under the Komar Rien Komar Cheh “Children Learn, Children Know” program. 

The initiative, which was successfully piloted in Kampong Chhnang province, aims to equip third graders with the foundational skills essential for academic success. 

Developed in alignment with the national curriculum, the package is a collaborative effort between the education ministry and the USAID-funded Inclusive Primary Education Activity (IPEA). 

In 2023, USAID, through the IPEA, trained 3,000 teachers in improved reading instruction, benefiting approximately 90,000 students in grades 1-3. 

The grade 3 reading package and its teaching materials are meticulously designed to be age-appropriate and come with a practical teacher’s guide. 

Chuon Naron was quoted in a USAID press release as saying that “the doubling of students’ reading comprehension in all primary schools in Kampong Chhnang after the implementation of the grade 3 reading package shows our commitment to boosting educational achievement across Cambodia”. 

“This evidence-based package is now endorsed for national scale-up, so that all third graders in Cambodia will benefit,” said the education minister, during a May 17 visit to Chres Primary School, in Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Tralach District.

Education minister Hang Chuon Naron and USAID mission director Kerry Pelzman visit Chres Primary School, in Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Tralach District, on May 17. Supplied

It builds on the success of systems which have been implemented for grades 1 and 2. They have been supported by USAID since 2017.

Recent findings from a USAID-supported mid-term early grade reading assessment revealed significant progress among third graders in schools that have adopted the program. 

The assessment showed that the average reading speed of Grade 3 students increased from 32 to 50 words per minute, while comprehension scores nearly doubled from 32 percent to 57 percent in just one year.

“The official endorsement of the Khmer Grade 3 Early Reading Package is a testament to the collaborative efforts between USAID’s IPEA project and the education ministry,” said USAID mission director Kerry Pelzman. 

“This milestone underscores our commitment to enhancing early grade education in Cambodia and equipping third graders with the essential skills for academic success,” she added.

Building on these achievements, USAID has pledged to continue to support the ministry’s efforts to expand early reading programmes and strengthen school governance nationwide.