The Ministry of Education Youth and Sport has announced its plan for long-distance learning and e-learning in Cambodia to tackle education issues during the Covid-19 crisis and to strengthen the quality of education.
For the first time in history, school curriculums across the country have been completely shifted from classroom to online classes. The Ministry of Education Youth and Sport has launched long-distance learning programs from kindergarten to upper-secondary school levels to help combat the spread of Covid-19. The Ministry also has major visions to boost and improve the future digital education system in Cambodia.
Ros Soveacha, the secretary-general and spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, told Focus that in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Ministry created long-distance and e-learnings through a TV channel, website, and Facebook page to facilitate education nationwide.
He added, “The Ministry has seen the support of long-distance learning from the parents and all relevant stakeholders, in particular a national TV channel; students could keep learning all across the country while fighting against the virus.”
Kim De Vie Prospere, an E2STEM student in Phnom Penh, expressed gratitude towards the digital education programs during the crisis, which has helped students keep learning and provided opportunities for them to experience learning digitally.
“I have gained countless experience in the last two months, as it is the first time for me and other students who have not met our teachers during the shutter of schools. I have learned how to better use computers and problem solve, and the revolutionary learning method has spared me extra time for assignments and lesson reviews,” continued Prospere.
Hem Rithero, a lower-secondary school history teacher in Mondulkiri, also made comments about the positive sides of long-distance and e-learnings during the pandemic. He said, “The online teaching has smoothed out the path for students to acquire knowledge on technology and to self-study at home during Covid-19 crisis.”
The new programs are not without their problems, however.
“The internet connection sometimes is not stable and there are no facilitators whom we can ask. This radical way of learning is quite complicated as I study alone and could not meet face-to-face with my friends for a chit chat,” said Prospere, commenting about the down sides of digital learning he has encountered.
Rithero also talked about the challenges of digital learning he and rural students are facing that students’ capacity on online learning is limited. Some students experienced difficulties to digitally access the information due to unstable internet connection and lack of resources, such as computers or smartphones. Also, it can be strenuous for him to explain lessons because students individually have different levels of understanding.
“Online learning cannot replace classroom teaching,” stated Mr. Rithero.
Ros Soveacha, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, said that Covid-19 is an unanticipated and temporary issue. He added the Ministry made an announcement to all private and public schools, parents, and students to adapt to long-distance and e-learning during the crisis.
To respond to challenging issues such as lack of resources, he stated that the Ministry has advised families without TV’s to study with neighbours who do, in groups of under ten people to practice social distancing and measures issued by the Health Ministry.
Teaching and learning online are the main goals on which the Ministry has planned and committed to accomplish in the future, continued the spokesperson.
“The online learning and teaching platform is part of vision in digital education the Ministry has embedded in 2019-2023 five-year strategic plans,” added Mr. Soveacha.
Hingphith Vongrathayuth, an educator in a public school, told Focus that online learning remains limited for learners .
He added, “Cambodian students lack independent learning experience, which is a solid foundation for long distance learning, and educational structure and Cambodians’ mindsets are not prepared to wholly adapt to the digital education revolution.”
He also mentioned that some actions are essential for an effective online platform learning approach. He called for improved policies and plans to promote and support strategic interaction for the implementation and resolutions. The improvement of private schools should focus school facilities and teacher development training programs.
According to a study in October 2019 by the Cambodia Development Center on digital literacy, in order to develop for a digital society, Cambodia must have a long term plan to strengthen major fields including education, digital infrastructure, and legal management as the country is lacking human capital, digital infrastructure, governance, and digital innovation.
The five-year plan of the Ministry of Education also includes digital education in order to respond to policies and economic direction in Cambodia.
Strategies in place for the promotion of digital education include:
- Integrate ICT into a tool for teaching and learning, and to share knowledge across the whole education sector. Equip students with knowledge and skills on ICT to transition into 21st century employment.
- Adopt new management and administrative processes to modernize performance and increase the efficiency, transparency, and effectiveness of governance and performance monitoring in the education sector
- Ensure all students complete formal education with knowledge and skills on ICT to support their further education and professional work
- Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning in teacher training centres, schools, and other educational institutions by using ICT tools and e-resources
- Use e-learning to support the delivery of education services to all sub-sectors in education and develop institutional capacity for life-long learning
- Increase the efficiency and capacity of institutions for evidence-based decision making and knowledge sharing through systematic use of information. At the same time, promote their capacities in educational administration, operation, and data collection through digital systems.
- Create standards for infrastructure and network connections at national and subnational levels by integrating systems into a single internal network
- Provide the necessary financial resources to support ICT in the education sector using the RGC budget. Coordinate public-private partnerships and development partner support for both capital and recurrent costs.
This post is also available in: KH