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Maintaining access to education during school closures

17 Oct

Our program managers and coordinator are redoubling their efforts with a single objective: protecting the right of every child to have access to education. This is achieved by maintaining the link with the school system and supporting families in financial difficulty to prevent any reason for children to drop out of school.

The Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia has outlined several strategies for the reopening of public and private schools, which have been closed since mid-March, at the beginning of the school year 2020-2021. Pending the implementation of measures to open schools, which according to the Ministry of Education will be done in three phases depending on the health measures available, school support for pupils and students in the country remains limited.

Courses broadcast on television and on the Internet have been a good response to an urgent need, but teachers and humanitarian associations unanimously see their limits in the long term. These measures are insufficient to maintain the involvement of everyone, children, and parents, and to avoid the accumulation of gaps in the student’s knowledge.

In Cambodia and around the world, the risk of dropping out of school and leaving the education system is more than ever a reality. A large percentage of the population has been impacted economically and many have lost their jobs. Young people have returned to their homes and contributed to the family’s incomes. Therefore, the financial emergency is causing families to reconsider their long-term investment in the education of their children.

Child protection and access to education associations, we are all aware of the lasting impact of school closures, as demonstrated in Save the Children’s recent report, Save Our Education. Our team has therefore adapted its pedagogical actions and implemented alternatives to meet the challenges of school closures.

A diversified pedagogical offer to replace public schools

The Foyer Lataste team has made great efforts to offer a full-time schedule to all the beneficiaries on site, combining the various educational offers available.

The schedule is adjusted to suit each grade: older children have access to online courses, while younger children have access to courses on television. But above all, to reinforce the skills acquired, the Khmer and French team members have provided reinforced English, reading and writing courses.

The reopening of the Tutoring Centre

Since July, the Tutoring Center can once again welcome students and thus completes our pedagogical offer. With the permission of the Ministry of Education, all children in the Center once again have between 10 and 12 hours of lessons per week – in addition to online lessons and other activities. Within the imposed limit of 10 pupils per class, these courses are offered in priority for all our beneficiaries but also to pupils living in the vicinity of the Center. The layout of the classrooms respects the measures of social distancing.

The possibility for teachers to deepen the lessons and give explanations improves significantly the quality of the learning process.

Preventing school drop-out through quality support in the local community

Real groundwork has been done to meet the needs of the community. The 46 children in our Family Support Program are regularly monitored by telephone or by home visits to encourage them to hand in the homework given by the teachers and to persevere in their learning. The children have recently received a school kit adapted to their school grade and to the needs of each family. The families were also alerted to the importance of keeping their children in the school system.

The team is mindful of each family’s economic urgency and the likelihood of school dropouts. The most isolated families, in which the children are unable to come to the Tutoring Center, have no access to the internet or television, and whose parents are illiterate, receive reinforced and more individualized social support.

Reinforced support for students in difficulty

With the closure of the universities, the majority of students have returned to their home provinces. AEC-Foyer Lataste supports each and every one of them regarding their attendance to online courses. The main objective, here again, is to maintain an educational link and avoid dropping out of higher education, in particular by making regular calls and financing internet subscriptions. The most disadvantaged may also return to the Foyer temporarily in order to have access to the Internet and to a favorable environment for study.

All these actions require adaptation in terms of human, logistical and budgetary resources. We thank all our partners, donors, sponsors and volunteers for their commitment alongside AEC-Foyer Lataste/ADTJK. The needs of the association are all the more important today as we seek to ensure quality support for each of our beneficiaries.

Every support counts, and more than ever in this post-Covid-19 period.

Written by Meïlie TANG, Service Civique Volunteer, and Solène ZECH, Field Coordinator

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