Skip to main content

17 December 2021 - News

[Press Release] Supporting children to enroll, learn and safely return to school during COVID-19

Phnom Penh/Dec 17, 2021 – Today, Save the Children (SC) and CARE International in Cambodia, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and UNICEF, jointly organize an online Evidence and Learning Summit for the Communication for Education project. The summit is sharing the achievements and best practices in supporting the re-enrolment, continuous learning and safe return to schools of boys and girls, following the nationwide school closures of 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.

Covering six provinces, and in only one year of implementation (2020-2021), the project’s interventions have demonstrated successful experiences and evidence regarding the use of communication for education to ensure children’s learning continuity during the school closures, as well as supporting the re-enrolment and safe return to school when schools reopened.

Within this project, SC and CARE conducted a drop out analysis at the beginning of the 2021 school year to identify children who were at risk of dropout and/or had already dropped out. This study informed the selection of hotspot schools and in coordination with School Management Committees and provincial and district education authorities, the project developed a number of strategies to ensure children learned during school closures. For example, the project developed a number of creative communication for education materials for the back to school re-enrollment campaigns, including videos, posters or schoolbags in Khmer but also in four languages to ensure children and families from ethnic minorities were informed. In addition, one of the most promising practices the evaluation found was the provision of scholarships to vulnerable children: 600 students in Koh Kong, Kampong Chhnang and Stung Treng received study materials such as notebooks, pencils, bags, and rulers.

One of the best practices identified by the external evaluation in supporting children’s continued learning was the use of a range of flexible, contextually relevant and adaptive strategies. Depending on factors such as, internet connectivity, access to devices or phones, distance of students from schools, or the literacy levels of parents and caregivers, the project employed a different strategy. Approaches included, the development and distribution of paper-based student worksheets, the facilitation of small-group learning within communities, and online teaching-learning, including the use of social media platforms.

Working with Provincial Office of Education (POE) and District Office of Education (DOE) to provide training to school principals and teachers regarding the organization and implementation of distance learning/home-based learning and use C4E materials for campaigns, including messages related to Child Protection and planning for C4E – back to school campaigns was also an effective strategy to ensure continuous education. 

As a result of these actions, the evaluation found that all key actors, including target school teachers, POE and DOE officers, and school directors, can more effectively use basic Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) distance-learning programs to continue their educational services for children. School Management Committee members and local authorities have actively engaged in supporting home-based and distance learning while parents and caregivers also reported a change in perception with their children using and accessing mobile phones, noticing an important role that technology could play in children’s learning and communication with teachers.

“I would like to highlight here that our multi-stakeholder partnership was the catalyst to generate these achievements. That clearly demonstrates the significant roles each of us can play in promoting children’s continuous learning during the pandemic,” said SC Country Director, Mrs. Elizabeth Pearce.

We are pleased to see similar confirmations echoed by other stakeholders and the project was to engage all of the key actors including local authority, parents, teachers, school directors to collect primary school children back to school in their communities, we leveraged the local insights that all parents listen most to the School Management Committees and they also involved in the Back to School campaign. Now the parents understand the impact of education, then they have changed their behavior, by supporting children back to school,” CARE Cambodia, Mrs. Sovattha Neou, the Country Director added.

On behalf of UNICEF Cambodia, Technical Consultant Nick Hinde said, “We are very pleased to see the successful partnerships within this programme. Looking at the data shows us that an impact was made, but when we hear of the individual stories of how schools, communities and families have been supported in a practical way, we can see positive change at an individual level.

Background on the C4E II project:

UNICEF as part of Cambodia’s Global Partnership for Education (GPE)-funded COVID-19 Accelerated Funding Response and Recovery Programme awarded Save the Children and CARE International in Cambodia funds to implement the project, “Communication for Education – Back to School” (C4E II) from December 2020 to November 2021. 

The project supported MoEYS in the process of re-opening schools following closures related to COVID-19 and reaching the most vulnerable families and their children to ensure their continuity of learning during disruptions.

The C4E II project, was implemented in the provinces of Ratanak Kiri, Mondul Kiri, Kratie, Stung Treng, Kampong Chhnang, and Koh Kong, covered 1,185 schools in 1,185 villages, in 37 different districts, and aimed to reach 3,942 beneficiaries, of which 50% were women and girls.

CARE, in partnership with UNICEF, had previously designed and implemented a C4E programme in three north-eastern provinces. It brought this experience forward into this project, repurposing the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials in collaboration with Save the Children for new audiences in mainstream populations, and for all formal education levels.


For media inquiries, please contact:

  • Mr Taing Vida, Communications and Campaign Manager, Save the Children Cambodia

Email:              Phone: 016 541616

  • Mr Phal Chansathya, Senior Program Manager, CARE International in Cambodia Email:                 Phone: 012 979009
  • Mr Meas Bunly, Communications Specialist, External Communication, UNICEF

E-mail:                                Phone: 012 733 909


For full report and brief of the project, please find these links