Catching up with missed schooling — the Accelerated Learning Programme

Adapted from original photo essay by Stina Heikkila

Lim Heng taking notes in the classroom 
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

When Lim Heng,11, was growing up, his family moved around a lot — first to the capital Phnom Penh, then onto Pailin, then Ratanakiri, then Kro Kor. This made going to school difficult for the young boy who sometimes did not have access to any school at all. Instead of studying, he and his siblings helped out with farming activities to sustain the family. This made Lim Heng sad, especially when he saw other children attend school and learn.

Lim Heng preparing for school
©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

When his family finally settled in Kro Kor, Lim Heng was first enrolled in Grade one, but later joined the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) developed by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS) with support from UNICEF and its development partners. This allowed Lim Heng to catch up and complete two grades in one year. He is currently enrolled in the combined Grade 5 and 6 and plans to study at Kro Kor Secondary School when he finishes.

Lim Heng and his classmate listening to teacher during class
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

Clearly, motivation is not lacking for Lim Heng.

“I always listen to the teacher [and] pay attention in the classroom,” he said.

“I like the accelerated learning programme. I am committed to study hard to reach Grade 12. I will not give up school again!”

Kro Kor Primary School
©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

Lim Heng is dreaming of becoming a policeman and wants to serve his country. The Accelerated Learning Programme has raised his chances to fulfil that dream.

Lim Heng and his mother at their home in Kro Kor
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

Sadly, Lim Heng is far from alone in his destiny of dropping out of school, or attending a lower grade than he should. Estimates for Cambodia show that 54.4 per cent of children aged 12–14 are still in primary school and as such are at high risk of dropping out before completing basic education. Children in rural areas are particularly at risk, with some 85 per cent of out-of-school children living in rural areas.

Lim Heng reading and laughing at home
 ©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

With UNICEF and Sida’s support, the MoEYS will continue to roll out the ALP in order to reverse this negative trend and provide over-age students with a due chance to fulfil their right to a basic education.

The video can be accessed via the following link:

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