Multilingual education is making changes
Tumpoon teacher Ting Sain teaches to benefit his community. Before the 60-year-old started training from CARE, he had never attended formal education. Through his 13 years of teaching he is seeing how education is benefitting his people and is a strong supporter of teaching in a child’s mother tongue.
“I couldn’t go to school because there was no school or teachers in my village,” he says. Sain began to learn to read and write through his previous work as policeman. When he lost his leg in 1994 because of a land mine, he was moved from the field to the office and learned more.
Sain now teaches Grade 2 at his local Primary School. He was trained to be a multilingual education teacher by CARE, a method that has increased the accessibility of education to ethnic minority communities through first teaching in the mother tongue and using that as a bridge to learn the national language.
“It is very important for children who can’t speak Khmer, like here in my village, to learn to read and write. It’s easier for children to learn through the language spoken in the community. It’s also important for the children because it keeps the language and culture alive,” Sain said. “This school is very important to the village.
It is very far from the next town and the next school.”Sain said he had observed a lot of changes in his village, as once it was a place that no one could read and write, or even speak Khmer. Now, most children are reading and writing.“Without the school and multilingual education, children would have very limited job prospects. Before CARE started work in this village, most people couldn’t speak Khmer. Now it is very different.”
Sain is happy to see some of his previous students succeeding, with two now teaching alongside him at the primary school. “If someone says to me that mother tongue education is not in a child’s best interest, I don’t believe them. Multilingual education is very important to me and for the students to learn their own language as well as Khmer. It is very difficult to learn in another language. This way is much easier.”
The project contributes to CARE Cambodia's Ethnic Minority Women program.
CARE has supported multilingual education in Cambodia for many years. This has been funded by the Australian Government and many other private donors.