an evaluation of early childhood care and education programmes in cambodia
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An Evaluation of Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes in Cambodia. Nirmala Rao The University of Hong Kong Emma Pearson Macquarie University Mark Constas Cornell University. Outline. Background Objectives Method Findings Discussion Conclusions. Background.

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an evaluation of early childhood care and education programmes in cambodia

An Evaluation of Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes in Cambodia

Nirmala Rao

The University of Hong Kong

Emma Pearson

Macquarie University

Mark Constas

Cornell University

  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Access to early childhood programmes in Cambodia
  • Current state of Cambodian children (stunting, wasting and underweight)
  • Government is committed to early childhood education but lacks resources to scale up State Preschool Provision
  • Alternative models of early childhood education (Community Preschools, Home-based programmes) exist BUT there has been no systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of these alternative programming strategies
  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • To assess the effectiveness of the Community Preschool (CPS) and Home-based programmes (HBP) early childhood programmes on school readiness developmental outcomes.
  • To observe early care and education practices in Community Preschools and in Home-based ECD programmes.
  • To discern the perceptions of key and relevant stakeholders on how the CPS and HBP were being implemented.
  • To make suggestions relevant to the improvement, sustainability and expansion of existing programmes.
  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
method for objective 1 assess programme efficacy
Method for Objective 1: Assess programme efficacy
  • Children’s developmental functioning was assessed twice, one year before and just before they started Grade 1 (1312 children did pre-test)
  • Randomly-selected sample
    • Randomization at the, Commune, Village and Programme levels, respectively.
    • Used list (alphabetical order in Khmer) with the names of all the communes and villages in UNICEF-supported districts

Oddar Meanchey

Preah Vihear

Stung Treng

Ratanak Kiri

Banteay Meanchey





Mondul Kiri



Kampong Chhnang

Kampong Cham

Kampong Speu

Phnom Penh

Koh Kong

Prey Veng







method for objective 1 assess programme efficacy1
Method for Objective 1: Assess programme efficacy
  • Selection of children
    • All 5 year-old children in the selected programme (village) were administered a test of developmental functioning
  • Cambodian Developmental Assessment Test
method for objective 1 assess programme efficacy2
Method for Objective 1: Assess programme efficacy
  • 1312 children did the pre-test
  • 1184 children did both pre-test and post-test

(Attrition rate less than 10%)

  • 1019 children did not change programme status between pre-test and post-test. These are the children we focus on in the statistical analyses
method for objective 2 o bserve care and education practices
Method for Objective 2: Observe care and education practices
  • Conducted in two stages
  • Home-based programmes were not observed per se, but we met with mothers and asked them to demonstrate what they did at home
Stage One
    • Informal observations of at least one randomly-selected CPS in each of the UNICEF-supported provinces conducted by the consultants
    • Evaluators visited each of the 6 CPS, somewhat unannounced, and observed the entire session in each CPS
    • After each session we interviewed the CPS teacher
Stage Two
    • Three children from three CPS programmes in each province were chosen based on their scores on the Pre-test (highest, middle and lowest scores on the CDAT)
    • The POE- ECE directors completed the Cambodian Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (CECERS) for these 18 children (case studies)
    • The directors were blind to the children’s pre-test scores and did not know why the three children were selected
method for objective 3 stakeholders views
Method for Objective 3: Stakeholders’ views
  • Interviewed
    • The Village Chief of a randomly-selected village and the relevant Commune Chief and Commune Council Focal Point for Women and Children
    • Teachers/ core-mothers of the SPS, CPS and HBP in the selected village in communes
    • Mothers whose children participated in HBP participated in focus groups that addressed their perceptions of the early childhood services their children were receiving
    • Provincial and National level officials
  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
explanation of pre test differences
Explanation of pre-test differences
  • Significant differences at pre-test
    • SPS, CPS, HBP > Control
    • SPS > CPS, HBP
  • Why are there differences?
    • Where the child lives
    • Maternal Education
    • Preschool History
where the child lives
Where the child lives
  • All children in SPS and CPS lived in villages which had these programmes
  • 180/196 children in HBP had programmes in their village
  • Control children had no services in the village  remote areas
maternal education
Maternal education
  • Significant relationship between maternal education and the type of programme child attended
    • SPS: 11% of mothers had no education
    • CPS/HBP: ≈20% mothers had no education
    • Control: 28% mothers had no education
preschool history
Preschool history
  • SPS (06-07):
    • 44% attended SPS in 05-06
    • 11% attended CPS 05-06
  • CPS (06-07):
    • 67% attended CPS in 05-06
  • HBP (06-07):
    • 72% received HBP in 05-06
prediction of post test scores
Prediction of post-test scores
  • Maternal education, maternal literacy, paternal education, paternal literacy all significantly interrelated.
  • 4 variables significantly contributed to prediction of post-test CDAT scores
    • Pre-test CDAT (35% of the variance)
    • Pre-test programme status
    • Maternal education
summary and implications based on cdat
Summary and implications based on CDAT
  • Participation in a EC programme had a significant influence on children’s developmental functioning  increase access
  • History of preschool attendance makes a difference  get children in programmes by at least age 4
  • Community Preschools versus Home-based programmes  no differences in CDAT (implications and cautions)
  • Maternal education makes a difference  focus on maternal literacy education
  • Quality of learning environment  look to SPS
observations of community preschools
Observations of community preschools
  • Cambodian Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale (CECERS)
    • Infrastructure (physical envt.) 12 items
    • Personal Care and Routines: 7 items
    • Physical Learning Aids: 7 items
    • Language & Reasoning Experiences: 9 items
    • Fine & Gross Motor Items: 6 items
    • Creative Activities: 6 items
    • Social Development Activities: 11 items
  • Observations in 6 provinces, 10 districts, 14 communes and 18 villages by POE-ECE Director
cps quality
CPS quality
  • Variability in teachers’ backgrounds and teaching and learning environments.
  • Physical setting/infrastructure is related to only:
    • Physical Learning Aids
    • Creative Activities
  • Physical setting/infrastructure not related to:
    • Personal Care and Routines
    • Language and Reasoning Experiences
    • Gross and Fine Motor
    • Social Development
interviews with teachers and parent focus groups
Interviews with teachers and parent focus groups
  • Positive aspects of CPS
    • Satisfaction gained by teachers
    • Teachers as advocates
    • Teachers upgrading their knowledge
    • Children learning social skills
    • Children learning academic skills
    • Mothers involved in children’s learning
interviews with teachers and parent focus groups1
Interviews with teachers and parent focus groups
  • Major Challenges
    • Inadequate shelter
    • Transportation and storage
    • Difficulties in teaching mixed age groups
    • Irregular attendance
views of stakeholders background and history of programme
Views of stakeholders: Background and history of programme
  • Varied across provinces
  • Clear preference for SPS
  • Support for CPS or HBP from POE varied across provinces
views of stakeholders perceived benefits of programmes
Views of stakeholders: Perceived benefits of programmes
  • SPS:
    • Parents: longer hours of operation
    • Teachers: Formal training
    • POE: clear line management by MoEYS
  • CPS:
    • Teachers and parents: active, brave, confident children
    • Commune Chief: parents learn value of early education
  • HBP
    • Mothers: educates and empowers them
    • Community benefits: decreases domestic violence, enhances community participation
views of stakeholders administration cost and sustainability
Views of stakeholders: Administration, cost and sustainability
  • SPS:
    • Well-established, well-managed and highly functional
  • CPS:
    • Resources: infrastructure and learning resources
    • Teacher incentives
    • Teacher attendance
    • Financial issues
  • HBP
    • Considered more sustainable and easier to manage than CPS
    • Easier to support: Only one CPS teacher but many mother groups
views of stakeholders monitoring roles
Views of stakeholders: Monitoring/ roles
  • HBP:
    • Community-based monitoring; on-going support for mothers groups
  • CPS:
    • POWA supports community
    • POE provides technical support
    • Visits vary according to location of CPS
    • Good to have inter-sectoral co-ordination but it has problems  lack of clarity across provinces
operation and sustainability of programmes
Operation and sustainability of programmes
  • Operational Guidelines for the Establishment, Staffing, Curriculum, Support and Monitoring
  • What we found
    • High degree of commitment
    • CPS: Non-operation; wide variations in teacher and programme quality; dependence on CPS teacher for programme operation
    • HBP: Core mothers not most educated women in village; variations in operation
operation and sustainability of cps and hbp
Operation and sustainability of CPS and HBP
  • Challenges for Scaling up
    • Maintaining quality
    • Leadership
    • Low levels of teacher and maternal education
  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
summary and impressions
Summary and impressions


  • the inputs required for the CPS
  • the challenges identified in the sustainability of CPS programmes
  • the fact that children from CPS and HBP programmes did not significantly differ in their school preparedness
  • low levels of maternal education
  • low levels of family involvement in the CPS
  • Stakeholders may consider:
    • scaling up a hybrid version of the CPS and HBP programmes. This will allow the community to gain the advantages of both types of programmes while avoiding the some of the problems associated with operating and supporting these programmes.
  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations related to
    • Demand, Access, Enrollment and Attendance
    • Funding of ECCE
    • Community Involvement
    • Programme Quality
    • Co-ordination among Stakeholders
    • Scaling up CPS and HBP
  • Stakeholders need the
    • POLITICAL WILL to increase demand and supply of EC programmes. This must be accompanied by clearly articulated policies, implementation plans and financial commitment .
    • SKILL to implement, support and evaluate EC programmes.
  • Specific strategies needed at the National, Provincial, District, Commune, Village, Programme and Family Levels