Ministry of Education and UNESCO to Celebrate International Literacy Day

AKP Phnom Penh, September 02, 2020 —

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), in cooperation with UNESCO Phnom Penh will celebrate International Literacy Day through a public event on social media on Friday, Sept. 8, 2020, according to a news advisory AKP received this morning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the education of an estimated 1.1 billion children across 144 countries, including Cambodia where nearly 3,210,285 students and 93, 225 teachers were affected by school closures. That is why this year, the International Literacy Day will focus on literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond with a focus on the role of educators and changing pedagogies. The theme will highlight literacy from a lifelong learning perspective, and mainly focus on youth and adults. The recent COVID-19 crisis has drawn attention to existing literacy challenges – deeply affecting schooling and lifelong learning opportunities including for youth and adults with no or low literacy skills.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has decided to emphasise the importance of literacy as the foundation for lifelong learning. It has entrusted the MoEYS with the responsibility to eradicate illiteracy and focus on promoting an environment and culture that encourages reading and writing, at both the local and national level.

Through its ongoing education programmes, UNESCO is continuing to work closely with the MoEYS to achieve its goal of eradicating illiteracy and promoting an environment and culture that encourages reading and writing during COVID-19.

The Basic Education Equivalency Programme (BEEP), a joint initiative of UNESCO, MoEYS and Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) aims to expand access to basic education for all Cambodian youth by providing access to basic education through self-paced, blended and flexible learning modality which enables them to enroll in further skills training. While BEEP originally targets out-of-school youth, following COVID-19, online courses for all subjects have been made public, allowing approximately 610,000 students enrolled in lower secondary grades (Grades 7-9) to access supplementary learning resources through the BEEP platform in order to continue their learning.

The Factory Literacy Programme (FLP) enables young women and girls working in factories to acquire basic literacy skills and empower them to realise their fundamental rights. FLP provides Khmer Language class to improve participants’ reading and writing skills, and Numeracy Class. During COVID19, nearly 300 women working across seven factories will continue to access a broad-based curriculum, with a particular focus on family health and nutrition.

The Strengthening Teacher Education Programmes in Cambodia (STEPCam) is a joint UNESCO and MoEYS Programme, funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which aims to establish and deliver Continuous Professional Development to teachers, teacher educators and MoEYS officials.

STEPCam supported the MoEYS with the development of online video lessons focused on Khmer Literacy and Mathematics Grades 1 to 3 that were disseminated on social media from Mar. 30 to April 9, 2020 so that children in early grades across the country were able to access continuous learning following the closure of schools due to COVID-19. With additional support from UNESCO’s Capacity Development for Education Programme (CapED), MoEYS was able to continue to produce teaching videos with inclusion of sign language for the affected student population from April 20 to May 23, 2020. Audio worksheets were also developed to facilitate student learning online and offline.

“The Celebration of International Literacy Day gives us the opportunity to step back and reflect on how we can better support youth and adults in their quest for literacy during the pandemic, and put in place stronger policies and systems to assist educators,” says Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, Head of Office of UNESCO in Phnom Penh. “UNESCO through our education programmes remains strongly committed to promoting literacy as the foundation for lifelong learning in Cambodia.”

International Literacy Day also allows the Royal Government of Cambodia, MoEYS and national and international partners to reiterate their commitment in helping Cambodia achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

By Heng Panha