Thursday, November 8, 2012

Community preschool inspires young students to excel in life

Davith draws pictures of animals at Krouch Community Pre-School.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2012/Kong
Six year old, Yan Davith, is one of 15 children attending a community pre-school in Prey Sak village in rural Kampong Cham province, three hours north-east of the capital, Phnom Penh. Although she only joined the pre-school in October last year when she was five-years-old, Davith’s social skills have greatly improved. She attends the community pre-school from 7.00 a.m. to 9.00 a.m., Mondays to Wednesdays, and Fridays and Saturdays. She is looking forward to starting Krouch Primary School next year, and already has big plans for the future.

“My favorite activity is reading”, says Davith confidently. “And I want to become a doctor.”

Her dream has a better chance of coming true, since the establishment of the community pre-school in October 2011 in Krouch commune, Prey Sak village. Early childhood education is critical in helping young children develop the cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills they need to succeed in life. According to Ms. Khem Soeung, a community pre-school educator in the village, since the commune established a pre-school, the impact on child development and behavior has become very apparent.
“Children are now friendlier to each other and show respect to the adults” explains Soeung. “The children are even practicing hand washing at home now.”
Davith washes her hands with her classmates.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2012/Kong
UNICEF with funding from the UNICEF Australia Committee, has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Ministry of the Interior, to establish and support community pre-schools in 321 communes in 12 provinces. The type of support includes the training of community pre-school teachers, payment of stipends to teachers as well as the provision of teaching and learning supplies such as paper, notebooks, scissors, pencils, crayons, pencils and floor mats. Play items such as knitted soft toys, balls, hula hoops, skipping ropes and building blocks are also provided.

According to commune focal point for women and children, Ms. Pich Kim Yeang who is responsible for collecting and analysing data on the situation of children and women in Krouch commune,
“A lack of preparedness for primary education was an issue in our commune before having a community pre-school. When young children develop their social skills with their peers and adults at the pre-school, and learn to recognise letters and numbers, they have a smoother transition to primary school”, emphasised Kim Yeang. “The pre-school has now become a priority and my commune is willing to improve and sustain it, no matter what happens in the future.”

And this is good news for children like Davith, who may one day fulfill their career aspiration, as a result of a promising early start.

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