By Anna Nordenrot
|©UNICEF Cambodia 2015/Anna Nordenrot|
8-year-old Kreok Cheo in his home village in Mondulkiri province with his MLE-trained teacher Ms. Nhik Pika.
MONDULKIRI, Cambodia, 26 May 2015 – There is much that sets Mondulkiri apart from the rest of Cambodia. The province is located in the northeast and, compared to the hectic city life of Phnom Penh, this is a sanctuary. Set in the mountains and surrounded by forests, Mondulkiri is much greener than Cambodia’s more southern provinces.
Here the soil has a deep red color and the air is cooler, providing a comforting break from the otherwise hot climate of Cambodia. Following a long and winding road in the mountains, we reach Pou Trom Primary School in Pou Trom village, Romonea commune. This is a small school: home to only 52 students and three teachers, it provides Multilingual Education (MLE) to Bunong children, an ethnic minority living in the area.
We meet Kreok Cheo at his house. The school is closed today: the teachers are participating in a full-day MLE training organized by CARE and UNICEF. Cheo is 8 years old; as a member of the Bunong ethnic group he does not speak Khmer at home (the official language in Cambodia). He is currently attending Grade 3 of the MLE Programme, which allows students to learn both in Khmer and in their mother tongue from Grade 1 to 3, before they switch to Khmer-only education.