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Ethnic Minority Children Reap Multilingual Education Benefits

Nang Rieng* has been enjoying benefits of multilingual education (MLE) over the past years run by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), and technically and financially supported by CARE Cambodia and Aide et Action International, respectively.

The 11-year-old girl said that she finds the program beneficial and is enjoying learning in her multilingual grade two class.

Nang Rieng is Kroeung, one of 24 ethno-linguistic minority groups in Cambodia, and lives in Cambodia’s remote north-eastern province, Ratanak Kiri.

For many years, schools in this region were only taught in Khmer, the national language. To address this issue, CARE Cambodia and the Cambodian government, together with other NGOs through the Cambodian Consortium for Out of School Children, are working to improve children’s access to multilingual education schools - which help children build a strong educational foundation in their mother tongue and a bridge to the official school language; and strengthen and preserve their language and culture - and to encourage them to complete the full primary education cycle.

"In grade two, I'm studying in both Kroeung and Khmer languages. It's easy to understand the teacher. It is easy to speak, read and write," she said, adding: “I will be literate in both Kroeung and Khmer languages.”

“I want to become a teacher [in the future],” she continued, reasoning that she wants to help other children in the village to become as literate in Kroeung and Khmer as her.

“I am very happy and satisfied with [the multilingual education program] because it makes my relationship with the teacher and other students closer and protect my tradition and culture, and I will not forget my language,” she added.

She said that there are hands-on activities in her grade two multilingual education class where students are allowed to go outside the classroom to conduct [small] researches, and that many children want to learn in multilingual education classes, [because] they find activities in the classes enjoyable.

She wishes multilingual education would continue to be implemented in her district because she wants other Kroeung children to be at school.

This project has provided technical and financial assistance from CARE Cambodia and Aid et Action, respectively, implementing Education For All: An Integrated Approach from the Cambodian Consortium for Out of School Children.

These activities were part of the Cambodian Consortium for Out of School Children and this project contributes to CARE Cambodia's Ethnic Minority Women program, which is supported by the Sutralian Government and many private donors.

*Name has been changed in accordance with CARE's child protection policy.

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