The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), supported by UNICEF, launched a national Back to School Campaign to encourage Cambodian children to return to classrooms while practicing safe behavior to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As the new school year starts, and with COVID-19 still a global challenge, this campaign will be crucial in making school environments as safe as possible. The campaign also aims to reach those families and children whose education has been most disrupted by the pandemic, encouraging them to prioritize learning despite the challenges.
The campaign is themed “Act Now” and will reinforce proven safe behaviors around COVID-19, as well as other cross cutting messages to make schools safe, healthy and a flourishing environment for children. These messages are captured in creative videos, posters, radio spots, and text messages that will be broadcast across the country.
The campaign is funded by the European Union and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). It builds on the campaign the Ministry and UNICEF launched in September 2020 to announce that schools were re-opening after a six-month closure, a highly successful effort which was also funded by the same generous donors.
Some materials, such as flyers and games, will be printed for children to take home, ensuring the messages engage families and communities in fun and playful ways. In addition, an illustrated booklet for teachers and school principals featuring safety guidelines, checklists and tips has already been produced and delivered to all 16,500+ schools so that teachers can start the new school year fully prepared.
Minister of Education, Youth and Sport said, H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, “Our priority throughout the pandemic has been keeping children safe, while also doing all possible to maintain their education. We’re proud of the Cambodian Government’s efforts in keeping infections amongst the lowest in the world, while also ensuring distance learning was available for all students. Now that the new school year is beginning, we want to get the message out very clearly. We want children to return to school and parents to prioritize their children’s learning, knowing that we are working hard to protect students from the virus. Children and parents also need to play their part, by following the guidelines that this campaign promotes.”
CEO of the Global Partnership for Education, Alice Albright said, “The pandemic has made it especially difficult for children to stay engaged in learning. While distance education has offered some continuity for learning, there is no replacement for the interaction between students and teachers. GPE’s support will help the Government of Cambodia to safely reopen schools so that children are protected from COVID-19 as they return to in-person learning.”
UNICEF Representative in Cambodia, Foroogh Foyouzat said, “Cambodian children have experienced serious disruptions to their education over the last year, and many have lost out on learning. As we move forward into 2021 and reimagine a post pandemic world, it is vital that we work together to keep schools as safe as possible and avert an education crisis. The pandemic has also brought about opportunities to use technology and innovative ways for teaching and learning, and for building back better an inclusive education system for all. We believe this creative campaign will connect with children, families and teachers alike, inspiring confidence in the safety of schools and reaffirming the value of education for every Cambodian child.”
The campaign has been designed to reach teachers, parents and caregivers, and children and young people. All assets will be inclusive, with translations into the four minority languages spoken in Cambodia.
As well as being broadcast through mass media, key information and assets will also be disseminated through targeted use of messaging services such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook Messenger. UNICEF will make all assets available to its partners in the Cambodian education sector so that they can use and adapt them as they see fit, ensuring maximum/ impact across the country.