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Italian (IT)

On becoming effective parents in Cambodia

On becoming effective parents in Cambodia

ARNEC News Flash, December 2009 - www.unescobkk.org 

Aide et Action (AEA) and New Humanity (NH) are both NGOs in Cambodia concerned with children’s access to quality education and welfare of families and communities in Kampong Chhnang province. There are now 14 preschools in Boribor and Tek Phos, which are serving at least 450 children aged 5 years old on a daily basis, with preschool teachers supported by New Humanity. 

 

To complement the preschool services for children, a partnership was entered between AEA and NH in Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) particularly on Parenting Education (PE). The intention was to help parents become more responsible in order to support their children during the critical years of their growth and development.

The overall objective of the project is to develop proper attitudes and behaviors of parents (and other stakeholders) in child care. The project addresses the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which emphasizes the family as a fundamental group in society that helps ensure that all members, especially children, become responsible citizens within the community.

Furthermore, the 1993 Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia articulates the need and responsibilities for parents and the state in children’s development and education. The first goal of Education for All (EFA) aims to expand and improve early childhood, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. The Early Childhood National Policy framework by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) articulates that in order to achieve its EFA goals, it is necessary to expand provision of ECCE services through the support of families and communities. Thus, educating parents is linked to the achievement of the goal on increasing enrollment in grade 1, where the transition period from preschool to primary grades is a critical stage. Indeed, drop-out and repetition rates are still quite high at primary level in Cambodia.

There is a gap between the ECCE National Policy framework and the actual provision of ECCE services in Cambodia, as pre-primary enrolment only reaches 12 percent of children according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics data for Cambodia in 2007. Reasons for this gap includes the lack of trained professionals, attitudes of parents towards ECCE, and the lack of investment in this sector. Parenting education programs are also still relatively new and scarce in Cambodia.

From the viewpoint of both AEA and NH, parenting education is a participatory process utilizing integrated partnerships aimed at improving child and family care via the conduct of parenting education sessions to parents/caregivers (women and men). During these sessions, various topics were discussed from the development stages of child growth, principles of child development and learning, developmentally appropriate practices, to the identification of roles and responsibilities in child care.

In the designing of modules and session guides, we focused a great deal on the local context, family achievements, gender construct and socialization process, gender discriminatory behaviors and existing practices, and beliefs prevalent among parents and Khmer culture.

The parenting education project is also an opportunity for adults and parents to discuss welfare issues beyond early childhood, for example, topics of domestic violence and gender. Parents were also encouraged to reflect on Cambodian values and cultural practices in a non-threatening and open atmosphere.

Feedback from parents during the two pilot test sessions in Pechangvar community in Boribor district between March to September 2009 revealed that parents learned about child development, the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, and links among key actors in child development. Parents even expressed their interest in continuing these sessions even after their child is enrolled in grade 1. 

Presently, the parenting education project is in full swing with monthly sessions in 14 communities of Boribor and Tek Phos districts. Each session lasts 2 to 3 hours and is attended by parents (mothers and fathers), village leaders, school directors and some commune leaders. 

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