Cambodia, UNICEF work together to provide distance learning to ethnic minority students amidst pandemic

FILES: Cambodia and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are working together to ensure the continuation of learning for indigenous ethnic minority students. Photo: UNICEF/2020/Thomas Cristofoletti

PHNOM PENH -- Cambodia and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are working together to ensure the continuation of learning for indigenous ethnic minority students as schools have been closed due to the current COVID-19 community outbreak, said a joint press statement on Wednesday.

UNICEF has procured 1,640 radios that will be delivered to indigenous ethnic minority students in the northeastern provinces of Kratie, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri, the statement said.

These students are learning through the Education Ministry's multilingual education (MLE) radio-based program, just one of the distance learning modalities the Education Ministry introduced in the early days of the pandemic, it said.

"During these challenging times, I am pleased that the ministry is able to partner with UNICEF and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to deliver much needed distance learning opportunities for children engaged in multilingual education," Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said.

"For the multi-lingual radio program to be truly impactful, it is important that parents support their children to continue to learn using this valuable service," he added.

 The MLE radio program provides radio lessons for pre and primary school multilingual students in the Kroeng and Tumpoun languages in Ratanakiri province and in the Phnorng language in Mondulkiri province.

An estimated 1,527 students from 79 primary schools who don't currently own a radio will receive one, bringing lessons right into their home, the statement said.

In addition, 34 community preschool MLE teachers and 70 primary school MLE teachers will receive a radio for their teaching purposes to be used in the classroom or during distance teaching and learning activities.

The radios will be delivered in early April, it said.

"The provision of radios to children will enable the reach of the program to be significantly extended, which is very important during this time when schools are closed," Foroogh Foyouzat, representative of UNICEF Cambodia, said.

"This is an important initiative, which is helping to address the issue of learning losses due to the impact of COVID-19," she added.

Alice Albright, GPE's chief executive officer, said even brief interruptions in education could have devastating consequences on children's learning and wellbeing.

"These GPE funds will help Cambodia ensure that no child's education is left behind because of COVID-19," she said.  


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