Improving Access to Early Childhood Education in Rural Cambodia

Tara, of TGF’s Child Education programme, pauses during construction of a kindergarten classroom at Thnal Lok village, Spean Tnaut Commune, Chi Kraeng District, Siem Reap Province, to talk about some of the successes of the Early Child Education Project in recent years.

“In 2017, we were approached by parents in various villages in this commune, asking for help in setting up some form of pre-school for their young children. We had already opened community-led kindergartens in 8 villages already, so were confident that given the right amount of motivation from community members, we could make it happen. Now, we’re finishing construction of another class in this commune, with two already built so far this year.”

Prior to TGF involvement, communities held informal pre-school classes, where a teacher, often completely untrained and with little by the way of management and guidance, would provide lessons to students underneath a house in a village. These low resource settings were not ideal learning environments. TGF’s first priority, however, was to improve teacher and communities capacity to run an effective class:

“Firstly though, we wanted to make sure that teachers and the community were committed to working for a positive outcome, so we provided materials and training, but delayed building a classroom until the kindergarten committees; made up of parents, teachers and local village leaders, were running smoothly. We didn’t see the value in just building a classroom and walking away, we needed to be sure that there was a solid basis for building it.”


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One of the villages which was ready for a classroom was Samroang (pictured above), where Chantrea teaches. “The kindergarten committee did a lot to fund-raise around the village and the classroom was built using mostly their donations.” TGF’s model has been to encourage communities to see the value in providing early education, and support them in getting there. Like the other kindergartens we support, this school is built by the villagers, for the villagers.

Navy, a kindergarten teacher in Thnal Lok village (pictured below), talks about her journey, and exciting changes coming up: “Before I began working with Temple Garden Foundation, I had no formal training, and no resources to work with. The children didn’t even have chairs to sit on. They sat on a plastic sheet while I used a single whiteboard to deliver lessons. I received training from TGF and actually learned how to teach the curriculum, and the class got a whole range of new materials. We’re all excited to move into the new classroom soon.”


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A recent report from Save The Children, highlighted how 60% of children aged betweek three and five in Cambodia are still not accessing any kind of pre-primary education*. In recent years, TGF has worked with communities to open twelve kindergartens across three communes in Chi Kraeng district, with three of those classes now being completely handed over for local authorities to manage. The hard work of parents, village leaders and especially teachers as part of kindergarten committees has been crucial in achieving these positive outcomes – and their ambition inspires us to keep working towards improving lives in this part of rural Cambodia.