Study Visit on Non-Formal Education

Mr. Chheang Sangvath, Associate Dean of the College of Education, and faculty members Mr. Chum Chandarin and Mr. Im Keun accompanied 55 UC students from the EDC402 class on a full-day study visit on August 27, 2010, to the Community Learning Center (CLC) in Teuk Poush District in Kampong Chhnang Province. The purpose of the visit was to examine different forms of education and learning opportunities outside of the formal school system, which is commonly referred to as non-formal education (NFE). In addition, students explored how NFE can improve the lives of marginalized groups in both developing and advanced countries, and observed administration flow and implementation of these programs at CLC.

By applying academic education theories to real world practices, the UC team of students and faculty members gained valuable skills and made important connections that will help them contribute to building a stronger education system in Cambodia. Equally important, students were able to strengthen their relationships with community members and expand their network of education professionals and supporters though the organization.

After the event, Associate Dean Chheang Sangvath commented on the value of this experience, saying that students now have a deeper understanding of how to implement and organize a variety of NFE initiatives, which they will use in the future to improve the quality of education for both students and adult learners. Through the CLC presentation and field visit, students explored the major elements of the NFE system and will aim to use this learning experience to improve education policies, structures, and programs throughout Cambodia.

Along with other educational initiatives, the Cambodian government has adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) and Education for All (EFA) as a part of its national plan in 2003 with a target date of 2015. Some core goals of EFA include ensuring that children (particularly those who are girls, impoverished, or ethnic minorities) have free access to compulsory primary education of good quality, youngsters and adults have equitable access to life skills and learning programs, and gender disparities in primary and secondary education are eliminated.

Non-formal education is an important component of this plan as it targets the most disadvantaged populations in Cambodia who do not have access to high-quality formal education. The priorities of NFE include literacy programs for the youth and adults, education equivalency programs for out-of-school children and adolescents, job training programs for short-term income generation, and family education programs to promote early childhood development. Moreover, governmental and non-governmental organizations hope to build capacity within the different regions and integrate community-based learning methodologies to improve program effectiveness and sustainability.

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