|Muoy Kea’s grandmother combs her hair ready for school.|
©UNICEF Cambodia/ 2013/Ouk
|Muoy Kea dances with her classmates.|
Preparing children for primary school
The preschools operate from 7.00 a.m. to 9.00 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and usually have about 20 to 25 pupils. The children are often taught in the space beneath the stilts of the house belonging to the teacher or a family in the community. The curriculum addresses the children’s moral and cultural development, emotional and social development, cognitive thinking and language skills, through story-telling, play, art, dance and lessons in basic hygiene.
Muoy Kea’s community preschool teacher, Ms. Hars Pon, was recruited in 1998 by the commune council. She received her training from the Provincial Office of Education, Youth and Sport as part of the UNICEF-supported community preschool programme. Though the financial reward is small (she receives a small incentive of 80,000 Riel (US$20) per month) she is committed to her job and enjoys helping the children in the village develop the skills they will need to attend primary school at age six.
“When I was a child like Muoy Kea, nobody had any idea about the importance of preschool. There was no such thing in villages,” Hars Pon said. “I think today’s children, especially young children in my village, are very fortunate to have a community preschool. I am happy to see children in my village attend the community preschool. I am proud of being their teacher and helping them prepare for primary school.”
Hars Pon also speaks with zeal about the achievements of Muoy Kea’s elder sister. “Veasna used to be my student and now she is an outstanding student in her class.”
With such enthusiasm it’s no wonder that Muoy Kea wants to emulate Hars Pon. “I want to become a teacher when I grow up” she said, with a shy smile. Attending the community preschool is providing Muoy Kea with the right start to follow her dream.
By Ouk Vannara