Using Educational Television to Promote School Readiness in Cambodia





There is a growing global recognition of the importance of early childhood education. In Cambodia, however, most children's access to quality early education remains extremely limited, and the most socio-economically disadvantaged children come to school the least equipped with the necessary competencies. Studies have shown that high-quality educational television shows, such as Sesame Street can help pre-school aged children gain certain cognitive and socio-emotional competencies. In addition, research has suggested that from watching educational children's shows, teachers and parents change their attitudes and practices around fostering young children's learning. In Cambodia, where television is now ubiquitous even among the most disadvantaged, television is an overlooked early education opportunity for children.

World Education, the Educational Television Corporation (ETC), and WGBH-TV adapted the US educational TV series, Peep and the Big Wide World, for Cambodian broadcast. Peep was the first curriculum-based, locally adapted television program which targets Cambodia's preschoolers (children aged 3 to 8). Each half-hour episode of Peep contained two animated stories in which the characters explore a phenomenon in the world around them, such as water, light, or gravity. Following each animated segment was a short film featuring Cambodian children and parents investigating the same phenomenon at home or in their community.

Peep modeled inquiry, nurtured curiosity, and encouraged discovery learning. The humor of the show appealed to adults, and it modeled concrete examples of how they could help their children engage in hands-on learning. Peep was broadcast nationally on one of the most frequently watched stations in rural Cambodia.

Peep was selected by the Ministry of Education and Youth Sports, the National Advisory Group for Children's Educational Television, and World Education to be adapted for Cambodian children because of the alignment between Peep's curriculum and the National Learning Standards for Children Aged 5 and 6. In addition, accompanying materials were developed with the Ministry for use by community Parent Educators in nationwide parenting interventions. In this way, the TV show and the support materials were important tools in Cambodia's efforts to promote the school readiness of young children.

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