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FEATURE STORY January 9, 2020

Parenting Programs Change Mothers’ Behavior toward Children’s Education


Photo: © Saroeun Bou/World Bank


  • In 2015, 77.1 percent of Cambodia’s three to four year-year olds did not have access to Early Childhood Education, due to the lack of pre-school facilities.
  • Under the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) for Floating Villages Project, seven community preschool centers have been built, 1,021 children have been enrolled in community preschools, 9,591 children and 7,992 parents have participated in the home-based ECCD program, and 191 parents/mothers completed maternal literacy programs.
  • Despite progress, in Rang Til Commune alone, there is more than 50 percent of children under-age of 3 to 5, not have access to preschool.

Standing under her wooden house, a 31-year-old mother, Mao Tep, greets her 4-year-old daughter Luy Lykai as she returns from her community preschool.

“Thank you my dear,” she smiles with her palms together in responding to her daughter who says “hello mommy! I am back from school.”

Tep and other mothers, including grandmothers and pregnant women, in Rang Til village in Kandeng District of Pursat Province, attended a parenting training program to learn how to improve their children learning, hygiene, nutrition, protection and care. She found that her behavior has changed after the training. Now she doesn’t threaten her children to do things or go to school but instead takes care to use nice words, encouragement, and interacts with them more.

“Every morning we teach them how to wash their face, brush their teeth and set up their bed before getting dressed for school,” Tep said. “We also answer most of their questions that we know, for example, color, animals or birds that live in our village. Before, we rejected or sometimes we shouted at them when they asked so many questions. They were scared.”

The training provided to Mao Tep and others is part of the home-based ECCD program of the ECCD for Floating Villages Project. This project is supported by the Japan Social Development Fund, administered by the World Bank, and implemented by Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization in Cambodia. The project aims to improve access to quality ECCD services through community and home-based programs for children 0 to 5 years old, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, in the targeted areas.


Photo: © Saroeun Bou/World Bank

The project also constructed seven preschool centers and trained 59 community facilitators or contracted teachers, as well as commune officials, to improve community-based services.

Veth Sophary, a contracted teacher of children ages 3 and 4 years old at a newly constructed floating community preschool center feels proud of this new facility. It helps her both in teaching and caring. The new community preschool is equipped with life jackets for safety and fencing to protect children. The center also has a large space where the students can do physical exercise and learning activities.

Sophary recalled that before the center was built, her mother gave space in her home to serve as a classroom. During flooding season, she taught inside the house that was built five meters above the ground to prevent flooding. During the dry season she moved the classroom to the ground floor.

The new preschool also attracted more young children to come to study. It increased from 42 students in 2018 to 59 students in 2019. Despite this increase, about 50 percent of young children in the village do not attend preschool due to the long distance, and some of them must follow their parents for fishing, according to Khlok Sisotha, Second Deputy Chief of Rang Til commune, Kandeng District of Pursat Province.

He said that there is only one community preschool in his whole commune of five villages. Therefore, many children between ages the ages of 3 and 5 have no access to preschool.

The ECCD for Floating Villages Project was started in June 2016 and ended by December 2019. Recently the project implementation was handed over to local government. Local communes will be responsible for the community preschool management as well as supporting the contracted teachers and learning activities.

“We are happy to have a community preschool in our commune so our young children can learn at an early age,” Khlok Sisotha said. “We have included the management and budget of supporting these preschool activities in our commune’s annual development plan.”

Under the project, seven ECCD centers have been built, 1,021 children have been enrolled in community-based ECCD programs,  9,591 children and  7,992 parents have participated in the home-based ECCD program, and  191 parents/mothers completed maternal literacy programs.