by Mom Chantara Soleil
Almost 1,000 children, of them about 43% are female, aged from 3-5 years are attending 33 community preschools in three districts of Ratanak Kiri officially opened lately.
With over 500 participating children, parents, local authorities and relevant development officials, the inauguration was presided over by Provincial Governor H.E. Thong Savorn, Ambassador of the European Union to Cambodia H.E. George Edgar, and Country Director of Plan International Cambodia Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink.
According to Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, the preschool facilities are part of the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programme carried out in 47 villages of 9 communes in Veun Sai, Ta Veaeng, and Andoung Meas districts of highland Ratanak Kiri province, more than 75% of its population are indigenous ethnic minorities.
In his remark, H.E. George Edgar underlined that allowing preschool access among small children is the best investment for parents, the communities and the society as a whole. Children with the access are likely to go on to do better at primary and secondary school – a stepping stone for them to achieve highest potential in life and access useful skill for future employment.
The recent Education Congress 2015-2016 indicated that over 30% of small children aged from 3 to 5 years in Ratanak Kiri, compared to approximately 46% nationally, are attending preschools. This is an encouraging improvement from 2011, wherein only around 10% had the preschool access.
“Without on-going contribution of donors, communities themselves, local authorities and our partners as well as other stakeholders, we would not have been where we are now and the project’s sustainability will be at risk. Our approach is to ensure that the communities here are taking the lead in both identifying their needs and addressing them,” said Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink.
He added: “Let’s continue to work hard together to bring small child development work here to a higher level.”
The European Union and Plan International Belgium and Germany have been funding the mentioned interventions to improve the realization of children’s right to education in order to promote a more equitable and democratic society in Cambodia.
Supported by the Provincial Department of Education Youth and Sport, the project is implemented by Plan International Cambodia in partnership with local NGOs Bondos Komar and Kousar Yoeung Association.
“Our indigenous minority people here also want to have decent jobs. We don’t want to work under the sun all day with little income. So, let’s continue to develop our human resource and sustain the assistance from our development partners,” remarked H.E. Thong Savorn.
[Photos by Tiep Seiha]