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Why early education is essential? The construction of a preschool in Cambodia

In Cambodia, the cultural norm is for young children to remain at home. The oldest siblings look after them while the parents are out to make both ends meet. Elder siblings often have to neglect their own studies in order to care for the younger ones.

Early education in Cambodia

Research shows that across the board, the majority of 3-5 yr olds are taught at home. However, it was reported that these children were only given lessons once in a while. Most parents recognize that their children are likely to receive a better education at school from trained teachers, and that adds impetus towards sending their kids to preschool.

Why young children are not in preschool in Cambodia?

One reason parents are reluctant to send their children to preschool is that it is intended for children who are aged between 3-5 years, and some parents believe this is too young for a child to be in education. Children also might be staying at home because they either lack the access to preschool, or the availability of places at the school is limited due to the lack of teachers. This is especially true in remote, disadvantaged communities where demand exceeds capacity and kids often have no other choice but to remain at home.

The key issue among those who do not attend preschool is that dropouts and repetition rates are high, yet according to studies, repetition rates are next to nil among students who did attend preschool. Therefore, it has a definite positive impact on primary performance.

Preschool: an assistance for children and parents

Sending children to preschool not only allows time for parents to make a livelihood but also relieves the responsibility of older siblings so they can focus on their own studies.

Preschool establishes a foundation or springboard for children to enter primary education. It differs from a standard child care centre because, in addition to care, preschool provides skills and basic lessons. Preschool education is a way of aiding a crucial stage of child development.

A visible impact on primary school performance

Not only have teachers picked up on better test results, but parents have remarked on positive changes in their children after attending preschool. It introduces children to a classroom setting and they can enter primary school with increased confidence, not just because of a familiarity with the classroom environment but also due to the fact that they will have established friendships and connections with other classmates and teachers.

Children establish friendships with other classmates

What are the key reasons detailing the value of preschool education?

  • Removes the responsibility of siblings to care for the youngest, so that they have the time to concentrate on their own studies.
  • Children get a good head start and are better prepared for when they enter primary school.
  • Improves primary school repetition rates as well as reduces dropout and repetition rates among students.
  • Increases children’s study performance and equips them with essential basic skills.
  • Develops children’s social skills so they will find it easier to adapt to primary school.

Construction of the preschool

In Banteay Meanchey province, Northwest Cambodia, some children receive their schooling in the O’Sgnout centre. It consists of a primary school and secondary school. This school centre also houses younger children at the preschool level. It gives them a chance to succeed. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space to accommodate them all. Without an allocated space for these pupils, their activities take place in one of the primary school rooms.

The situation is not sustainable. On one hand, the primary school is deprived of a room needed to home its pupils. On the other hand, the number of children that can be accommodated in the preschool is limited. The centre lacks suitable equipment to promote their development and doesn’t have enough toilets.

To meet this need, the school management team submitted a request to Children of the Mekong for the construction of a new preschool with four classrooms to accommodate up to 80 pupils.

OBJECTIVES ACHIEVED!

  • New building of four classrooms which can accommodate at least 80 pupils
  • Four toilets for the children
  • Additional equipment to promote children’s development (indoor and outdoor games)
  • Free up space for the primary school (classroom previously used by the preschool)

BENEFICIARIES: 80 pupils and their families

PROJECT COST: £70 555

Support education in Cambodia

Progress: 82%

Funds raised so far: £40,700 of £49,564

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