Improving Basic Education in Cambodia

The education system in Cambodia continues to face challenges relating to poor quality and lack of access, particularly in rural areas. At the most fundamental level, too many Cambodian students leave school – often before completing their studies. As a result they are left with few practical life skills and little to prepare them to make a living, having cut their education short before developing good interpersonal communications skills, sound judgement and creative thinking ability.

In 2009, USAID launched the Improved Basic Education in Cambodia Project (IBECP), which is being implemented by World Education. As part of a consortium of groups assisting World Education, Equal Access is implementing a three-year life skills project targeting secondary school youth in Kampong Cham province.

EA’s approach includes schools, teachers, students, and radio stations in an engaging and educational multimedia project designed to encourage a more holistic approach to life skills education.

Drawing on the format and immense popularity of our We Can Do It youth radio series, Equal Access has developed a special series of the program repackaged for a younger audience (13-16 years old).  The young hosts of this magazine-style radio program lead segments highlighting key life skills, such as decision-making, communication and self-confidence, which are tied to IBECP activities and the experiences of secondary students in Kampong Cham.  The presenters are woven into a drama segment that inspires the imagination and creativity of listeners. In these dramas, characters discuss diverse subjects such as employment opportunities and goal setting.  Listeners are challenged to think critically about the fictional characters’ decision-making processes and the presenters’ comments and questions about each episode’s topic.

The radio series is broadcast on radio stations in Kampong Cham province and also made available to partner schools in the province in audio libraries and computer labs established by IBECP.  In order to support schools to teach life skills using these multimedia materials, teachers are provided with suggested written exercises and discussion topics that they can use after listening to radio episodes with their students.  Audio exercises are also included at the end of each recorded episode, which encourage students to work together to answer questions and solve problems.

In addition to the radio series, schools are also provided educational comic books featuring characters from episodes.  Similarly designed to teach key skills within the context of relevant issues in Cambodia today, the comics feature learning exercises to support teachers in designing lesson plans and guiding skills development.

Student listening and dialogue groups have also been formed in partner schools, with learning exercises and discussion guides available to help support them.  Students meet to listen to programs and discuss the issues presented within the context of their daily lives. Led by a trained youth facilitator, these meetings enable students to gain a more in-depth understanding of the issues addressed in the programs, and discussion guides provided by Equal Access give participants the opportunity to practice and develop key life skills explored in the shows.

Connecting project activities and student participants from partner schools are groups of student reporters trained to conduct recorded interviews and collect vox pops from other pupils and listening and dialogue groups. The reporters’ comments, views and questions are incorporated into radio episodes, giving listeners a sense of interaction with the program, and allowing them to hear the views and ideas of their peers.

The project aims to improve basic education levels by inspiring teachers to offer a more rounded level of education that incorporates creative multimedia learning materials designed to educate, inspire, and entertain. As a result, Equal Access is contributing to efforts to develop more confident and more ambitious students equipped with life skills that will benefit them through school and in the workplace.

Success Story

Listener excels in and out of the classroom thanks to We Can Do It radio show

Media Links

Waiting for Promise, is a We Can Do It program-linked comic book designed as a learning extension of the radio program.English Version (PDF)
Cambodian Version (PDF)
Group Study and Studying Well, are two more We Can Do It program-linked comic books designed as a learning extension of the radio program and distributed to our listeners in Cambodia.Group Study – Cambodian Version
Studying Well – Cambodian Version