CC: Christina Andrada

Cambodia’s child-friendly school policy works

A ten-year scheme designed to get all of Cambodia’s children into school and improve their education has been a remarkable success.

Around 97 per cent of children are now in enrolled in school thanks to the nationwide initiative led by Hang Choun Narton, the minister of Education, Youth and Sport. He spearheaded the changes that have resulted in a standardized curriculum, revamped high school national exam standards and a child-friendly school framework. 

Removing barriers to equality

There are six components required for a school to be certified as a child-friendly school. The Child-Friendly School framework’s main condition is that a school should be inclusive and ensure that all children have access to schooling, particularly the most vulnerable such as orphans, ethnic minorities and those with physical disabilities. To support this, a campaign was launched to get out-of-school children to enrol. Another requirement is about providing equal and equitable educational opportunities for both girls and boys so that they can participate equally in all activities in school, family and society. 

Another component seeks to address the health, safety of children while at school. Chan Sophea, Vice-Secretary of the Cambodian Council for Youth Development and the head of Primary School Department, told The Phnom Penh Post, “We want teaching without using violence such as beatings or other punishments. The school environment is also very important as we need to keep their spaces clean and organised so pupils love coming to school and keep interested.”

The Child-Friendly school framework

Implementation of the child-friendly school policy also means that families and communities have a right and responsibility to help shape how their local school is run. The Government also has a responsibility to provide funding and logistical support to all schools. As a result around 90,000 impoverished students are supported with $60 US Dollars per year, while 12 provinces and cities in Cambodia are given two tons of rice and other food annually by the Government which provides one meal a day to all students.

Author: Julia Zvobgo

Julia Zvobgo is a Cultural Anthropologist and the Community Manager of Child in the City.

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