Child-Friendly School Program for Vulnerable Children

Nath Bunroeun, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS), spoke at the launching event on Oct. 24. Photo: The Plan International Cambodia

PHNOM PENH – A “Child-Friendly School program” has been launched to implement guidelines for empowering teachers, parents and community members to prioritize the well-being of children vulnerable to natural disasters. 

Natural disasters is one of the seven critical factors for students dropping out of school, said Nat Bunroeun, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS), at the launch on Oct. 24. 

Hem Sinareth, Phnom Penh Education, Youth and Sports Department director, said 22 schools reported flooding and storms, resulting in damage to infrastructure and closures in 2022-2023. 

To address the situation, Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng called for assistance from the Department of Public Works and Transport to pump out water from flooded schools so that they can be reopened. 

Yi Kimthan, acting country director of Plan International Cambodia, said, “We got funding support from Prudence Foundation to implement Safe Schools initiative in Cambodia project for phase III which built on the achievements of phase I and II and rolled out a contextualized and effective model for Safe Schools from 60 target schools in Stung Treng to a further 36 new target schools in Siem Reap and Ratanakiri provinces.” 

The project will complete the previous phases and support and encourage stakeholders to support children’s safety and protection, he added. 

According to Kimtha, the guideline has three objectives, including protecting students and education staff from death, injury and violence as well as safeguarding schools and education settings from damage; developing effective plans to prevent and reduce disruptions to children's learning in preparation for all kinds of shocks, stresses, hazards and threats; and, enhancing students’ skill and knowledge and other key stakeholders for contributing to risk reduction, resilience and sustainable development. 

Bunroeun believes that the program in schools vulnerable to natural disasters is essential to develop them into role models for 18,430 other schools ranging from primary to high school. 

“The Ministry aims to have 500 – 1,000 such schools in Cambodia,” said Bunroeun. “I am eager to see more activities being implemented shortly.”

Sinareth called for further collaboration with stakeholders to assist the schools affected by natural disasters and ensure equitable quality education for all students. 

The stakeholders include the Disaster Management Secretariat, National Committee for Disaster Management, departments of education from 25 provinces/capital, district governors and Department of Education, Youth and Sports, NGO networks and the Joint Action Group.

Related Articles