by Mom Chantara Soleil
Concerned government and NGO officials met in Phnom Penh today to hear studied challenges and proposed recommendations by Plan and jointly set out action plans to improve the access of vulnerable children and youth to quality learning and meaningful participation at schools.
“I appreciate that Plan is seriously taking actions and come up with a specific study to promote the learning and participation of vulnerable and marginalized children. It is what they deserve but oftentimes forgotten. I myself grew up from a very poor and vulnerable farmer family,” remarked Education Youth and Sport Secretary of State H.E. Im Koch when presiding over the gathering.
Sampling respondents (about 50% of them were marginalised children and youth themselves) in a fifth of Cambodia’s 25 municipality and provinces the milestone study agrees that there support policies in place but their implementation remains a big issue.
Inadequate teaching monitoring system, low commitment of teachers, a shortage of teachers and irregular teaching as well as limited number of schools, inadequate buildings, not routinely accessible school facilities, limited teacher training, lack of specialized skills and resource materials for children with special needs are the challenges identified in the study.
“This study is designed to identify the types of vulnerable and marginalised children in the provinces where Plan works, and identify the political and systemic factors, social and community factors and school factors, that prevent full participation in education, learning and decision-making. We hope that by better understanding the barriers for children, more children in Cambodia will grow up to reach their full potential,” said Interim Country Director of Plan International Cambodia Mr. Brian Beckett.
Outstanding actions set out in the discussion to break learning and school participation barriers of vulnerable children and youth are identifying clear indicators for most marginalised children accessing education and learning and including the most marginalised children into the existing Education Management Information System (EMIS) as a cross cutting themes to collect further disaggregated data on vulnerable and marginalised children.
Improvement of family livelihoods, provision of scholarship and creation of learning opportunities for non-formal education and vocational training skills are among the suggested key finding in the study where were carefully discussed.
“Children in Plan’s sponsorship program had some barriers to education removed as a result of the support for Plan. This was identified as a good practice model by the respondents. Other good practice models included programs to improve and maintenance the school facilities. This was usually a part of the implementation of Child Friendly School Policy,” said the study.