The Cambodia Educational Media Initiative (CEMI) promoted the use of a range of media to strengthen efforts in Cambodia to promote quality education for youth of all ages.
The Initiative brought together two institutions with a strong commitment to building capacity to promote local responses to local issues. WGBH, one of the premier public radio and television institutions in the United States, focuses on high quality programming backed up by teacher professional development, community education and outreach. World Education, with its focus on formal and nonformal education and health programming for Cambodian youth and their families, partnered with WGBH to implement four areas of inter-related activities:
- Introduced media that supported early childhood education(eg, Sabai Sabai Sesame, Peep and the Big Wide World, with accompanying materials for parents and Early Childhood Education facilitators);
- Developed and used media in teacher education programs to support at risk children;
- Produced Khmer translations/adaptations of media that supported greater understanding of public health issues in Cambodia (eg, RX for Survival); and
- Promoted greater interest in and the preservation of Khmer performing arts(reinforced the efforts of programs like Cambodia Living Arts and the broader application of the performing arts in promoting health, education and personal safety).
In particular, the Initiative had focused on the first area, using media to improve the quality of early childhood education. Television ownership among rural Cambodian households has increased and at least 85% of the population regularly watches television. Studies have shown that high-quality educational television shows, such as Sesame Street and Peep and the Big Wide World, can help pre-school aged children gain certain cognitive and socio-emotional competencies. In Cambodia, where television is now ubiquitous even among the most disadvantaged and children lack access to appropriate early learning opportunities, television is an overlooked education opportunity. The Cambodia Educational Media Initiative (CEMI) has utilized two internationally renown educational children TV shows to take advantage of television’s potential to foster improved school readiness of Cambodia’s pre-schoolers.
- Sabai Sabai Sesame (2005-2008): World Education, Educational Television Cambodia (ETC), and WGBH adapted the US educational TV series, Sesame Street, for Cambodian broadcast. The Khmer version, known as Sabai Sabai Sesame was broadcast on television in Cambodia from December 2005 to the end of 2006, and targeted the pre-school and primary school age group. The show, adapted with culturally appropriate content, incorporates traditional music as well as academic and social messages.
- Peep and the Big Wide World and parenting education materials in partnership with the Ministry of Education (2007-2009): Since 2007, World Education has worked with UNCIEF Cambodia and the Early Childhood Education Department (ECED) of the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) on an initiative that seeks to develop young children’s educational television and related parenting materials that complement ongoing work across the country to promote school readiness. The project focuses on building the capacity of parent educators to help parents promote their children’s school readiness through discovery learning play. The new Discovery Learning Play Training Package for Parent Educators will be used by district- and provincial-level government trainers, who are then responsible for training community parent educators. The locally-adapted TV show, Peep and the Big World, was developed through partnership with Khmer Mekong Films and Seven Color Studios and was specifically aligned to the national Early Learning Development Standards for Children aged 5-6 under this project. Each half-hour episode of Peep contains two animated stories in which the characters explore a phenomenon in the world around them, such as water, light or gravity. A parenting ‘spot’ and locally-made films were integrated into each Peep episode, showing parents how to make play a learning experience for their children and how to help their preschool-aged children develop skills that will help them be ready to learn when they start school. A total of 36 episodes were made and have been repeatedly shown on national television.