While the world has made great strides towards literacy attainment in the past decade, 773 million adults and young people still lack basic literacy skills, and more than 617 million children and adolescents do not yet have minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further highlighted the deep challenges faced by non-literate adults and youth that have been hardest hit by the crisis. Since the closure of all educational institutions on 16 March 2020 that affected over 3.2 million learners in Cambodia, UNESCO Phnom Penh with the support of the Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme has been working closely with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) to mobilize continuous learning for Cambodia’s most vulnerable learners.
This year’s International Literacy Day theme is dedicated to, ‘Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond’ with a particular focus on the role of educators and changing pedagogies. In synergy with the Basic Education Equivalency Programme (BEEP), the Factory Literacy Programme (FLP) and the Strengthening Teacher Education Programmes in Cambodia (STEPCam), UNESCO with CapED support worked with MoEYS to strengthen distance learning for over 323,000 early grade students, lower secondary students, out-of-school youth and factory workers in Cambodia through a multi-tiered approach that targeted early grade learners, as well as adolescents and adults.
This involved the production of 180 video lessons covering Grade 1-3 Mathematics and Khmer Literacy with sign language and 60 worksheets for early grade learners; 60 teaching exercise videos in six subjects targeting out-of-school youth seeking 9th grade equivalency; and the development and digitization of 84 lessons for Khmer and Mathematics for the Non-Formal Education National Literacy Programme to be broadcast live on the MoEYS website, Facebook page and YouTube channel and made available for download on the MoEYS’s digital learning platform. Thanks to CapED support, the capacity of the BEEP digital learning platform was also enhanced to host more users, making it possible to open the platform up to 610,000 lower secondary education students in Cambodia.
The production of these distance learning assets has been accompanied by continuous advocacy on the behalf of UNESCO to strengthen the country’s infrastructure, education systems and education programmes during the crisis; and support educators that are the heart of promoting lifelong learning.
This International Literacy Day, the Royal Government of Cambodia has declared literacy to be the foundation of lifelong learning. It has entrusted the MoEYS with the responsibility to eradicate illiteracy and focus on enhancing employability including technical and vocational skills, transferable skills and digital skills. UNESCO is proud to be a key MoEYS partner in the development and implementation of its National Lifelong Learning Policy and supporting learners across Cambodia achieve their basic right to literacy.