The Ministry of Education and Unesco yesterday celebrated International Literacy Day in Siem Reap province’s Siem Reap city and invited anyone who is illiterate to participate in literacy programmes.
Pao Piseth, Siem Reap provincial deputy governor, highlighted the importance of improving literacy, which can be done through various programmes.
“In Siem Reap province, there are 42,422 illiterate people, including 20,977 women aged between 15 and 45,” Mr Piseth said. “We have held literacy classes and have taught 1,552 illiterates so far, including 1,211 women. We have employed 64 teachers, including 36 women.”
Mr Piseth said the classes are open to anyone who cannot read and write.
Sadar Umar Alam, Unesco’s representative to Cambodia, at the event said that literacy is the foundation for human development, which in turn impacts social, political, cultural and economic development of a country.
“Literacy skills are needed for people to acquire a broader set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values for responsible global citizenship and sustainable development,” Mr Alam said.
He noted International Literacy Day as an opportunity for all countries to monitor progress and take stock of actions to be undertaken to make every citizen in the country literate.
“This year, the international theme is ‘Literary and Multilingualism’, reflecting on different dimensions of multilingualism in today’s globalised world,” Mr Alam said.
He added that Unesco is on its fourth year of implementing the ‘Education 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goal 4’, where literacy is aligned with lifelong learning opportunities for all, with special focus on youth and adults.
“[Goal] 4.6 focuses on literacy, ensuring that by 2030, all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy,” Mr Alam said. “I am also pleased to confirm Unesco’s continued support in the revision of the literacy textbooks for Khmer and mathematics this year.”
Pit Chamnan, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, yesterday read a statement by Prime Minister Hun Sen dated August 19, saying that the ministry, along with all relevant ministries, will continue efforts to improve the education sector in the Kingdom.
“All ministries, institutions, learning centres and pagodas must create educational programmes and lifelong learning programmes for literacy and vocational training […] to provide lifelong learning for both formal and non-formal education systems for everyone,” Mr Chamnan said reading a statement by Mr Hun Sen.
Mr Chamnan in his speech noted that the ministry this year has collaborated with its partners to hold 955 literacy classes, which involved 965 teachers, almost half of whom are women, and taught 19,221 people, over half of whom are women.
Khim Leat, 34, a farmer from Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srey district, yesterday said she was one of 20 students who recently completed a national literacy programme held in her village.
She said she previously could not read or write since she quit school a long time ago, noting that she only completed Grade 2 because her family could not afford to pay for her education.
“I joined the national literacy programme from March 1 until June 30, 2019, so now I can write my name and I can read and understand more,” Ms Leat said.
She also noted on the importance of literacy for everyone in order to be able to understand vital documents, such as land certificates.
“I appeal to all those who are illiterate, please join a programme because it is very important for everyone,” Ms Leat said. “I hope the government will continue running literacy programmes in my village because I want to be able to understand even more of the Cambodian language.”
Phun Sreyphea, 34, also from Siem Reap province, said she can now read and write after joining the same programme.
“I can read and write my name, and I can now also read some books since I participated in the literacy programme,” she said.