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Cambodia's Education Ministry Tackling Low Reading and Writing Proficiency in Secondary Students

FILE - Primary students are reading during a classroom session at Kesararam primary school, in Siem Reap province, on Friday, March 20, 2015. (Nov Povleakhena/VOA Khmer)

The Cambodian Ministry of Education launched a program for nearly 400,000 primary school students, after observing that third and seventh grade students were unable to read and write proficiently and performed poorly at math.

Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron launched the “Komar Rien Komar Cheh” program on Monday. He said around 50 percent of 400,000 third grade children could not read properly and around 50 percent had low math scores.

He added around 30 to 40 percent of seventh grade students were poor at reading and writing, which is why it was highly likely they would dropout of school.

“When the children do not read well, they are at risk of dropping out of school,” he said. “Therefore, in order for all children to be able to attend school in high level of [proficiency], we must strengthen education from kindergarten.”

To improve education at the primary level, the program will include teacher training and mentorships, better education guides, learning materials and textbooks for the first and second grades.

The program is being implemented nationally after a pilot project in four provinces: Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Kampong Speu and Kampong Chhnang.

Eur Kesny, a first-grade teacher at the Muk Neak Primary School in Siem Reap, said her school had participated in the pilot project and found improved reading and writing skills among students.