Siem Reap, 14th October 2020 – The Minister of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), the European Union Ambassador to Cambodia, and UNICEF’s Representative jointly travelled to Siem Reap to assess the progress Cambodian schools are making in re-opening safely. The delegation was welcomed by H.E. Pov Piseth, Provincial Deputy Governor of Siem Reap, and staff at Samdach Tekcho Hun Sen Angkor Thom High School. The event highlighted the three organisations’ ongoing mutual commitment to protecting children’s right to education, despite strenuous new challenges presented by the COVID-19 global crisis.
The European Union has contributed €2 million to Cambodia’s on the safe re-opening of schools and the continued education of children, as part of the support to the COVID-19 response and recovery. Through this support, a nationwide back to school campaign has been launched by MoEYS and UNICEF, providing practical guidance to children, parents, teachers and school personnel on making schools as safe as possible and reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This campaign will continue through 2021, expanding to include valuable and engaging information not only to make schools safe but also a healthy and caring environment for children to learn and thrive.
In addition, critical hygiene supplies are being delivered to all 11,500 of the country’s pre-schools and primary schools. The European Union’s contribution to these efforts, through the UNICEF-managed multi-donor Capacity Development Partnership Fund (CDPF), is complemented by other CDPF partners, including Sweden, USAID and the Global Partnership for Education. These partners together are contributing to the provision of hygiene supplies to all 1,771 secondary schools in Cambodia.
His Excellency Hang Chuon Naron, Cambodia’s Minister of Education Youth and Sport, said: “We welcome the additional support from the European Union for our schools and students across the country at this very challenging time. This support will enable us to ensure children have continued opportunities to learn, despite the challenges COVID-19 is creating. The support for safe school re-openings from the European Union and other CDPF partners will go a long way towards giving confidence to communities that students can now return to safe and supportive learning environments.”
The European Union is also working with UNICEF and MoEYS to strengthen and expand the national scholarship programme, an important pillar of Cambodia’s social protection system. This work is pivotal in upholding the right to education of the most disadvantaged children, those who are at high risk of dropping out of school due to the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 on their families.
During the event, representatives met with some of the scholarship students, as well as local school directors and teachers. They learned more about the benefits scholarships bring to students and the positive impact hygiene supplies and the COVID-19 safety messages are having on schools overall.
Her Excellency Carmen Moreno, the European Union Ambassador to Cambodia said “Education is a basic human right and a key building block for Cambodia’s development. All over the world, COVID19 is causing disruptions to the educational opportunities for children, and this could become an obstacle to our future recovery. For more than 15 years, the European Union has been a strong partner of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and we are proud to support them on their program for a safe reopening of the schools in the country. As part of our COVID19 support and recovery program, we will also contribute to increase the number of scholarships to the children and most vulnerable families who have been hit the hardest by the crisis.
COVID-19 that started as a health crisis has now led to an education crisis that has disrupted the education of millions of children. From the early days of the pandemic, UNICEF has worked closely with MoEYS to keep children learning despite school closures and prepare for a safe reopening of schools.
Foroogh Foyozat, UNICEF Representative in Cambodia, said: “Any crisis also brings about opportunities to rethink and rebuild better. It is important that the COVID-19 response serves as a catalyst to opening up schools even better than before so that they become more inclusive and resilient. This can be materialized through unified efforts of development partners and strong leadership of the government.”
Notes to Editors:
UNICEF in Cambodia works to promote the healthy development of children, to defend their rights and help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood to adolescence.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.
Known as the Capacity Development Partnership Fund (CDPF), the programme is a partnership between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in Cambodia (MoEYS) the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF. Through a pooled funding mechanism, CDPF provides support to implement capacity development priorities for the education sector. The CDPF entered its third phase in 2018, which will continue until June 2023 for a total amount of approximately US$32 million. This new phase builds on the successes of the previous two phases, implemented since 2011.
About the European Union
The European Union is a political and economic union between 27 European countries. The European Union is Cambodia's second biggest trading partner and, together with its Member States, one of its largest development cooperation partner. Over the years, European Union has worked closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia, contributed to country’s development agenda, reducing poverty and promoting economic prosperity. European Union programmes take place in a wide range of areas, including: education, agriculture and natural resources management, governance, human rights, public finance management, trade, private sector development and climate change. The European Union Delegation in Phnom Penh represents the European Union in its relations with the Cambodian government for all matters within European Union jurisdiction.
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