Ethnic Minority Classmates Enjoy Access to Multilingual Education
Thavey and Davy have enjoyed the benefits of multilingual education (MLE) for the past two years; a program which is run by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) with technical support from CARE International in Cambodia (CARE) and financial assistance from Aide et Action International.
Thavey and Davy are of Tampuen ethnicity, an indigenous ethnic minority in Cambodia. Thavey is ten years old and the seventh child in a family; Davy is 12 years old and the eighth child in a family of 10 children. Thavey and Davy are classmates in Grade 2 at Kochon Kraom Primary School in Ratanak Kiri, a province in the far northeast of Cambodia that does not have the same access to social services and job opportunities as more urbanised parts of the country.
Unlike other children in Cambodia, neither of these children were enrolled in school when they turned six because teachers in their school did not speak the local language—the children spoke Tampuen whereas the teachers spoke Khmer. This situation would have made it impossible for Thavey and Davy to communicate with their teachers. However, in 2015, the Provincial Department of Education in Ratanak Kiri Province, with technical support from CARE through the Cambodia Consortium for Out of School Children (CCOSC), began MLE in the school close to their village. This program gave Thavey and Davy, and other Tampuen children, the opportunity to access education in their mother tongue.
According to their teacher, Thavey and Davy are two of the most clever and brave students in their class of 33 students, 17 of which are girls. “They come to school every day and participate in all the class activities,” said their teacher. “My parents are very supportive of me to go to school because they know how much I can learn; they provide me with books and motivate me to work hard,” said Thavey. She also spoke about her aspirations for the future: “When I grow up I want to be a teacher so I can get a good income to help my parents and help children in my community to read and write, just like me.” According to Davy, he likes MLE because he finds it easy to learn in the Tampuen language. He also enjoys learning Khmer, which is gradually introduced to MLE students over four years. Davy says that his favourite activities in school are group work, reading, games with the alphabet, and mathematics. “In the future, I want to become a sports person or sports teacher so that I can help my family and village,” Davy said.
Thavey and Davy are just two of the many Tom Puon children in Ratanak Kiri who can now access an education through MLE, a program that has been made possible through the generous support of Aid et Action International and other donors.