Project to Support Education in Cambodia

Students enjoying an English is Fun (EiF) class

The Nippon Foundation is supporting teacher training and English language education in Cambodia with the aim of eliminating gaps in education between urban and rural areas, so that through school education, Cambodian children have greater choices for their future and are able to embark on life with hope.

Background of The Nippon Foundation’s Support

The civil war and internal turmoil that engulfed Cambodia from the 1970s through the 1990s destroyed educational institutions and many intellectuals, including schoolteachers, were purged. After the long civil war, schools were rebuilt with overseas assistance to the educational sector, and the tangible aspects of the educational environment improved. During the period to 2000, The Nippon Foundation supported the construction of 100 schools in border regions where it was difficult to deliver aid.

In other aspects, however, the educational environment is not yet sufficient – in particular, the levels of teacher training and instruction techniques, especially in rural areas. This is because young people from rural areas who want to become teachers need to work to support themselves financially and cannot fully devote themselves to their studies. After they become teachers, teaching materials are insufficient and financially they still need to keep another job as well.

Furthermore, there are serious problems in terms of insufficient materials and training. In particular, although English is included in Cambodia’s compulsory education, many schools have not taught English because of a shortage of capable teachers. In addition, English teaching materials have not been suited to the actual capabilities of teachers and students, and despite being a required subject, children have not received sufficient English-language education.

Given this situation, The Nippon Foundation is providing support for teacher training, English-language education, and school construction in Cambodia.

Support Projects

1.Teacher training (from 2004)

Focusing on students from poor, rural regions studying at teachers colleges, scholarships are provided to cover living expenses, so that students do not have to work and can concentrate on their coursework and enhance their teaching skills. Since 2004, scholarships have been provided to more than 2,300 students in teacher training programs at teachers colleges in Phnom Penh.

Plan for support going forward (January – December 2018)

  1. Scholarships
    Recipients: Roughly 350 students from six regions studying at introductory- and intermediate-level teacher training programs in Phnom Penh
    Amount: US$15/month per student
  2. Domestic training: Study tour to Angkor Wat temple ruins
  3. Overseas training
    Period and location: One-week tours to schools in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries
    Participants: 12 high-achieving students and 2 teachers
    Method of selection: Chosen based on school accomplishments and class attendance
  4. School development and research presentations by graduates (current teachers)
    Graduates who are currently working as teachers participate in school development activities and present their research several times per year.

2.Support for English-language education (from 2010)

In the 1990s, English-language textbooks for junior high schools were prepared using foreign aid. These textbooks were not suited to Cambodian classrooms, however, because they emphasized reading and writing and the contents were hard to understand, meaning that both students and teachers found them difficult to use. In addition, compared with other subjects, rural areas have fewer teachers who are able to teach English and textbooks do not always reach these areas, resulting in a large gap in education between urban and rural areas. English ability is also a considerable factor in finding employment, and there were concerns that this would reinforce the gap between students in rural areas and urban areas in possible career choices.

Students studying to become junior high school teachers learn about Cambodia’s history on a domestic study tour
Junior high school students engaged in group exercises as part of the English is Fun program

In response, The Nippon Foundation and its local partner, the NGO Education Support Center KIZUNA, with cooperation from the BBC, created the radio English-language program English is Fun (EiF) in 2010 to enhance students’ conversational abilities. The pilot program was launched in 15 model junior high schools, and in 2014 the program was expanded to 40 schools. This has had the surprising result of EiF students scoring higher in English than students in urban areas. The results of EiF’s focus on listening and speaking came to the attention of Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, which requested that similarly effective textbooks be created for English-language reading and writing. In 2015 The Nippon Foundation began providing support for the creation of new nationally designated junior high school English-language textbooks. Today, all Cambodian public junior high schools are officially using English-language textbooks that include EiF and were created with assistance from The Nippon Foundation.

Along with programs to train teachers, we are preparing and promoting the use of English-language teaching materials to improve the quality of English-language education.

Support plan going forward (January – December 2018)

  1. Junior high school English-language training courses
    Three- to five-day courses will be held for approximately 500 English teachers in rural areas for training in teaching methods for new English-language curricula.
  2. Preparation of high school English syllabi
    English-language syllabi that incorporate EiF teaching methods are being prepared.

3.School construction project (discontinued in 2000)

Partnering with American Assistance for Cambodia (the present World Assistance for Cambodia), we built schools in the poorest rural areas, controlled by the Khmer Rouge, where support was limited.

Children in front of a newly built school