Cambodia Educational Media Initiative





Television ownership among rural Cambodian households has steadily increased, and at least 85% of the population regularly watches television. 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) promoted the use of a range of media to strengthen current efforts in Cambodia to promote quality education for youth of all ages.

The Initiative brought together WGBH, one of the premier public radio and television institutions in the United States, and World Education, with its focus on formal and nonformal education and health programming for Cambodian youth and their families, to implement four areas of inter-related activities:

1.Introduced media that supports early childhood education;
2.Developed and used media in teacher education programs to support at risk children;
3.Produced Khmer translations/adaptations of media that support greater understanding of public health issues in Cambodia; and
4.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, CEMI focused on the first area, using media to improve the quality of early childhood instruction. 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. CEMI utilized these two internationally renowned 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, incorporated 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): World Education worked with UNICEF Cambodia and the Early Childhood Education Department (ECED) of the Cambodia Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) on an initiative that sought to develop young children's educational television and related parenting materials that complemented ongoing work across the country to promote school readiness. The project focused on building the capacity of parent educators to help parents promote their children's school readiness through discovery learning play. The locally-adapted TV show, Peep and the Big Wide 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. 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 episode, showing parents how to make play a learning experience for the 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.

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