Cambodia, China, and UNICEF Unite to Protect 70,000 Pre-School Children

AKP Phnom Penh, October 21, 2020 —

Representatives from Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), the Chinese Embassy and UNICEF came together in Phnom Penh today to observe how hygiene supplies and education materials funded by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) are being used to assist Cambodia’s community pre-schools.

MOFCOM has funded the provision of these supplies to 3,064 pre-schools across Cambodia, allowing an estimated 70,000 children to return to school safely, protected from COVID-19.

MOFCOM has been a key supporter of the Royal Government of Cambodia and UNICEF in their joint response to the COVID-19 crisis. The provision of teaching and learning materials and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) supplies, such as portable handwashing facilities, water filters and cleaning products, is essential for the safety and health of the youngest learners. All supplies and materials are currently being distributed to District Offices of Education in 187 districts in all 25 of the country’s provinces.

“We welcome this support from China’s Ministry of Commerce through the Chinese Embassy, and thank them for working with UNICEF to support our pre-school children. The Ministry wants as many young children as possible to benefit from attending pre-school, and this is only possible when learning environments are safe. We hope families will feel reassured in sending their children to pre-school as a result of this critical support,” H.E. Ms. Kim Sethany, Secretary of State at MoEYS said.

After a ceremonial handing over of materials to five pre-school teachers, representatives travelled to Trapeang Thlan Village community pre-school to observe how the hygiene and learning supplies are being used by the pre-school’s personnel and students. They spoke with teachers, representatives from the District Office of Education, and community members about efforts to keep children learning and schools operating under the safest conditions.

“China actively participates in international anti-pandemic cooperation, firmly supports multilateralism, and firmly supports the leading role of the United Nations in the fight against the epidemic. These supplies are a cooperation between the Chinese government, UNICEF and the Cambodian government, using specific donation from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on behalf of the Chinese government to UNICEF, to support and care for the healthy development of Cambodian children, and improve the ability of Cambodian communities and schools to respond to the pandemic and protective increase the ability of children to return pre-schools,” said H.E. Wuguoquan, Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

From the early days of the pandemic, UNICEF Cambodia has worked intensively with MoEYS, development and civil society partners to address the impact of COVID-19 on learning. This support has enabled children of all ages, including pre-schoolers, to continue to access education services throughout the school closure period. It has also assisted schools to prepare well for re-opening, drawing on good practices to ensure safe, healthy and protective school environments.

“There is extensive evidence that early childhood education plays a foundational role in a child’s development, improving their educational results in later school years and leading to better outcomes in their adult lives. We are very grateful that China’s Ministry of Commerce is investing in early childhood education, allowing Cambodian children to access pre-school education safely. As the Cambodian education system recovers from and increases its resilience to the COVID-19 crisis, we will continue to work together to reimagine the provision of early education for every Cambodian child, especially the most vulnerable ones,” Ms. Foroogh Foyozat, UNICEF Representative in Cambodia.

(Photo: Khem Sovannara)

By Heng Panha