Lai Vutha

“Creating synergies” is the buzz word for project planners, putting the strength of all stakeholders to good use, in a complementary rather than a competitive way, joining forces rather than each one going alone, profiting from each organization’s experience and avoiding the mistakes that have already been made. In a way, this is nothing else but networking by another name. Lay Vutha, Non-Formal Education Coordinator of the NGO Education Partnership (NEP) in Cambodia describes how that network proceeds in coordinating dialogue and cooperation among nongovernmental organizations and ministries and government institutions in order to improve the quality and accessibility of education in Cambodia.

 

The Involvement of the NGO Education Partnership (NEP) to Alleviate Illiteracy in Cambodia

NGO education Partnership (NEP) is a national NGO with a member network of 112 education ngos throughout the country, 69 international, and 43 local NGOs. nEP was established in 2001 to be a key focal point for education sector work in cambodia. Since 2001, NEP has become increasingly recognized as the voice of education NGOs and works closely with development partners and the government (Ministry of education, youth and Sport – MoEYS) in discussions supporting educational policy reform and implementation.

With a clear vision and based on the six prioritized strategies agreed on by its educational NGO members as well as with the financial and technical support from DVV International in Laos PDR, NEP has prepared and was involved in the main activities to help alleviate illiteracy in cambodia, as shown below:

1. Establishment of Sub-sector Working Group with Non-formal Education NGOs (NFE-SSWG)

The main objective of this activity is to invite ngos that have a great deal of experience in the implementation of non-formal education programs throughout cambodia to come together and join in a discussion to provide comments, ideas and suggestions concerning the implementation of the policy Education For All 2015 and non-formal education programs. Additionally, they are able to share knowledge and best practices with each other and to also raise their concerns as well as illuminate the challenges they face on the ground. neP uses this mechanism to collect evidence-based information and to come to an agreement with their ngo members so they can speak with a common voice to support ongoing discussion and coordination among stakeholders and concerned ministries, namely with the Ministry of education, youth and Sport (MoEYS), Ministry of women’s Affairs (MoWA) and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational training (MoLVT). Quarterly meetings are held with these ministries and the following ngos: Asian Hope cambodia, ADRA, Aide et Action (AEA), Dycfe, DNTC, KDFO, DAC, Hagar, WDA, SVA, KPF, RAO, PSE, AFESIP, Friends/Mitsamlanh, and ICC.

For 2012, NEP has already organized three NFE-SSWG meetings, one in February, one in May and one in August. In each meeting, all the ngo members were actively involved in group discussions to share their knowledge, best practices and learn from each other. Importantly, they agreed on the main important issues concerning the implementation of nFe which are to be raised and discussed and placed on the agenda for the meeting with the Ministry of education, youth and Sport (MoEYS) and development partners. For example, issues concerning:

     

  • The implementation of a re-entry program, accreditation and curriculum implementation
  • Class and grade equivalency programs for primary and secondary education and integration into the formal education system
  • Update of the nFe textbooks to conform with the capacity of adults and youths outside schools, in the community, and also to respond to the recent Ict knowledge at regional level
  • The use of learning and teaching materials for nFe classes to increase creativity, confidence, courage and the ability to use knowledge to solve problems quickly as well as to make lessons enjoyable and fun.
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2. Regional Consultative Workshop on Non-formal Education with the Ministries Concerned and Educational NGOs

It is very true to say that the implementation of non-formal education is very difficult and complicated and that it requires the full involvement of all stakeholders, including concerned government ministries, international and local ngos, development partners and the private sector. Besides that, it needs a strong commitment, good leadership and ownership by those parties concerned for the public interest. nonformal education is a cross-cutting issue, especially in cambodia where the main target of nFe is children, adults and youths in poor families, in disadvantaged or remote and integrated areas, and in particular ethnic minority groups, girls and women.

Because of the reasons mentioned above, and with financial and technical support from DVV International, neP conducted a regional consultative workshop on nFe with the government ministries concerned and the ngos in Preah Sihaknouk province on April 5, 2012. the participants invited were from ngos in the target areas, the Ministry of education, youth and Sport (MoEYS), the Ministry of women’s Affairs (MoWA), the Ministry of Labour and Vocational training (MoLVt) and all the relevant departments of each ministry at the provincial level. It was a very useful and an interesting regional consultative workshop and the participants involved were able to gather knowledge and experiences concerning the nFe sector. good practices and the initiatives of government programs and ngos were shared in the workshop. Moreover, the main issues which were of concern to the ngos relative to the signing of the Memorandum of understanding (Mou) between the ngos and the ministries

Were raised and clearly explained by representatives of the government ministries. More importantly, all participants, government and ngo staff, were actively involved in the fruitful group discussion to find out what had been done well or not well and then agree on solutions together in order to solve the problems and make implementation, coordination and partnership better at the regional and local level.

 

International Literacy Day, September 8, 2012
Source: Lai Vutha

 

 

 

3. Initiated and Supported a Meeting Between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYs), Development Partners and NGOs

NGO education Partnership (NEP) has cooperated closely with the Ministry of education, youth and Sport, department of non-formal education to initiate and organize a meeting with development partners and ngos in the non-formal education sector in cambodia. the main objectives are to:

  • Provide the opportunity to share knowledge and communicate good practices to each other
  • disseminate the policies of the strategic education plan 2009-2013 and other new guidelines for the non-formal education sector to all concerned stakeholders and ngos
  • Better strengthen the relationship and cooperation between the government ministries concerned and civil society organizations in nFe in cambodia
  • discuss and collect recommendations from ngos, development partners and other stakeholders for the Ministry of education to better implement the nonformal education programs in the future

4. Publication of Advocacy Calendar and Planner, and Printing T-shirts to be Distributed to the Government Ministries Concerned, the Development Partners and NGOs

Every year, NEP publishes advocacy calendars and planners as well as t-shirts with simple messages to promote the importance of literacy and Adult education and learning in global, regional and local contexts. these advocacy materials are distributed to the government ministries concerned, the development partners and ngo members of neP. For example, this year the national theme of the International Literacy day here in cambodia is Literacy Is the Foundation for Development. neP has printed 200 good-quality t-shirts with a simple message on the back of the t-shirts to be distributed to the leaders of the government ministries concerned, the development partners, the ngo members in the nFe sector and some participants to wear during the public events of International Literacy day, September 8, 2012 in takmao town, kandal province. the advocacy planners and calendars are in the process of being prepared and will be finished soon. the neP will distribute them to raise awareness about the importance of Adult education and learning and about the importance of literacy as a contribution to the reduction of poverty in cambodia.

Roundtable discussion on the National Television of Cambodia
Source: Lai Vutha

A survey regarding reading and learning materials about nFe was conducted from February to April 2012. From the 80 ngos and ministries concerned, as well as uneSco, only 7 ngos have returned the questionnaires to neP. neP used the information provided by those ngos and the members agreed to invite the Friends organization to share good practices with the Ministry of education, development partners and ngos during the meeting between the ministries concerned and civil society organizations. of interest is that neP has collected and prepared the learning game books for nFe classes. the purposes are: Firstly, to respond to the shortage of such kind of learning materials to be used in literacy classes, community Learning centers (cLcs), reading centers and libraries; secondly, to make literacy students enjoy and have fun in learning activities so that they come to class more often; thirdly, to contribute to the quality improvement of nFe learning and teaching activities. neP has published 80 copies of this learning game and distributed them to ngo members and cLcs in Siem reap during its visit on July 12, 2012. Studies indicate that physical activity increases the number of capillaries in the brain thus facilitating blood transport. It also increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which the brain needs for fuel. In our classrooms, students have different ways of learning best (styles). this is because in all students (and adults), the brain works a little differently. therefore, we should altogether find some ways to help our students use more complex thinking for better quality of learning and creativity thinking.

A meeting on the global report on Adult Learning and education (grALe) with ASPBAe, Star kampuchea ngo and a representative from the department of non-Formal education was conducted on June 29 at neP’s office from 2:30 to

6:30 p.m. related issues concerned with the completion of this report were raised, such as the non-involvement of all the ngos and other concerned stakeholders. In order to get reliable information and completed data on all aspects of Adult education and adult literacy, a consultative meeting or workshop with all concerned stakeholders should be organized. neP supports and organizes quarterly meetings between the ministries and ngos so that they can also use these meetings to consult about this report. neP and Star kampuchea will write a suggestion to ASPBAe concerning this report.

5. Conclusion

To sum up: Based on the prioritized strategy of the representation of the ngo members in the education sector of government and the development partners, the ngo education Partnership (neP) works well to strengthen and share the knowledge and experiences between the neP and ngo members, development partners and the government ministries concerned in order to help reduce poverty and achieve the goals of education For All (eFA) 2015. neP focuses especially on goals 3 and 4 of eFA in order to ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programs so that a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy can be achieved by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education is available for all adults.

International Literacy Day, September 8, 2012
Source: Lai Vutha

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