During early childhood from conception to six years of age, children undergo important physical and emotional development, with this development having simultaneous and inter-connected effects.

This article focuses on early childhood education, referring to the “National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Development”, and the “Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023” for the early childhood education sub-sector.

The creation of the “Simple Activity Patterns for Parents and Guardians to Practise with Their Children at Home” video clips, along with advice on breastfeeding, which is another important part of contributing to development in early childhood, will also be looked at.

Investing in early childhood has long-term positive effects on their future development and education outcomes. Studies have shown that children who go through early childhood education or all forms of pre-school education are more likely to attend a quality primary school at the age of six and complete primary school without repeating or dropping out of school.

In the context of regional and global integration, early childhood education services have played an important role in achieving educational goals. Despite such efforts, there are still some remaining points that need to be addressed as agenda priorities and become necessary activities to meet the developmental needs of young children.

This is in response to the remaining challenges of the past and to achieve 4.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 4.2), which states that “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.”

Care and development

Pre-school and kindergarten is essential for preparing children to be ready before they enter primary school and be fully prepared for a lifetime of learning.

This is because the effectiveness of learning and teaching activities at the pre-school and kindergarten level is shown to be linked with learning in kindergarten and the quality of education of children in primary school.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (moEYS) led and coordinated the formulation of the National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Development, which was approved by the Council of Ministers at its plenary session on February 19, 2010.

The vision of the National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Development aims that all Cambodian children, from conception to age six – especially disadvantaged, vulnerable and poor children – shall be provided with care and development services, in line with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

This policy outlines six main goals and objectives including that all women are provided with care, health education services and nutrition during pregnancy; and that all children have their births registered, and are provided with care, regular health checkups, adequate immunisation and nutrition, and early learning.

It also sets out that all early children are ready to start Grade 1 at the age of six; technical staff, care givers, parents and guardians have appropriate knowledge on early childhood care and development; and that all relevant ministries or institutions work together closely to address and deal with the issues concerning early childhood care and development.

Source: Pre-school and kindergarten is essential for preparing children. SUPPLIED

All young children from birth to school age shall also enjoy physical, cognitive, mental and emotional development at own home and centres which provide quality and sustainable health services, nutrition and education.

In this policy on early childhood care and development, the Cambodian government also launched a number of key strategies that require participation in the implementation of roles and responsibilities, and coordination with relevant ministries or institutions, development partners and civil societies to cooperatively carry out roles and responsibilities for effective support on early childhood care and development.

In April 2013, the National Committee for Early Childhood Care and Development (NC-ECCD) was established and is responsible for the implementation of the National Action Plan on Early Childhood Care and Development.

MoEYS, in the Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023, identifies priorities for strengthening early childhood education (ECE) services, such as increasing access to quality, equitable and inclusive education, improving the quality of pre-schools in accordance with standards, and strengthening the capacity of

ECE sub-sector management.

In this regard, the Ministry of Education has set out objectives and strategies for the early childhood education sub-sector as follows:

Sub-Sector Objective 1: Increase access to quality, equitable and inclusive ECE services

This consists of five strategies, including expanding pre-school classes in primary schools and developing public pre-schools; developing standardised community pre-schools to be annexed from public education institutions and transforming community pre-schools into standardised public pre-schools.

It also aims to enhance parental education programmes and interventions for childcare by linking with public education institutions to teach the importance of the first 1,000 days; to expand inclusive education programmes for children with disabilities at public and community pre-schools; and to provide water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and nutrition, as well as health promotion in pre-schools.

Sub-Sector Objective 2: Improve the quality of pre-schools in accordance with standards

This contains three strategies, including strengthening the quality of pre-service and in-service training of pre-school teachers to respond to standards; and improving the inspection and assessment system for ECE system.

It also aims to strengthen the curriculum, teaching and learning materials for all ECE services in accordance with standards.

Sub-Sector Objective 3: Strengthen the capacity of ECE sub-sector management

This is comprised of two strategies – develop capacity and strengthen implementation mechanisms for the roles and responsibilities of management officials of the ECE sub-sector; and strengthen good governance of ECE, results-based planning, management, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

Video clips

With the advent of Industry 4.0, and with Covid-19 affecting Cambodia and the entire world, the use of digital technology and distance learning – particularly with school closures – has increasingly become part of education in the new context.

MoEYS has accordingly prepared the “Simple Activity Patterns for Parents and Guardians to Practise with Their Children at Home” video clips.

These are designed for educating young children – from 0 to under six years of age – for three purposes, including providing methods of teaching patterns for parents and guardians so that they have the opportunity in daily life to educate and develop their children.

They are also intended to strengthen the ability of parents and guardians in educating and nurturing young children, as well as enhancing welfare and hygiene maintenance.

The clips increase the morale of parents and guardians to participate in self-education and capacity development of young children in the family.

They show the main activities of teaching and learning in five subjects – Psychology, Science, Social Studies, Pre-Mathematics and Khmer Language.

The video clips have been posted on the official Facebook page and YouTube channel of the Department of Early Childhood Education (ECCD Cambodia) of the Ministry of Education, and broadcast on the Ministry of Information’s TVK2.

Importance of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants and young children. Based on this, Ministry of Health initiatives are designed to protect, promote and support mothers to breastfeed optimally, and should be implemented to the widest extent throughout the Kingdom.

Important tips for breastfeeding include that infants should be initiated to breastfeeding within one hour of delivery, while pre-lacteal feeding is discouraged.

Infants should also be exclusively breastfed for the first six months to achieve optimal growth and development, and breastfeeding should be continued as frequently as possible and on demand for up to two years of age or beyond.

The Cambodian government fully understands and recognises the importance of early childhood care and development (ECCD) in bringing advantages for the future of the children who will become the pillars of the country. Early childhood care and development is the priority of Education for All (EFA).

The Ministry of Education always encourages all parents to pay greater attention to raising their young children from pregnancy, considering it an important time for their physical and mental growth.

Parents and caretakers must pay attention in particular to the relevant components of the fully prepared childcare framework, focusing on good health, adequate nutrition, responsive child safety and security for children, and opportunities for early childhood learning.

Source: phnompenhpost