Project Pulse: Native Language Classes


One quarter of the students who study at Human and Hope Association Cambodia are illiterate, despite attending public school.
One in five Cambodian men and one in four Cambodian women over the age of 15 are illiterate (UNDP2018). To change these statistics, the Khmer language program was founded in 2014 to provide dedicated language classes and support to children living in rural Siem Reap.

Since the new semester began in October 2019, the students in the Khmer language program have learnt:

  • How to read sentences, which has enabled them to read short stories
  • How to read and confidently answer questions in class
  • Living values lessons including nutrition, rubbish management, the core student values and hygiene
  • Meditation, which they undertake each day before class

65% of students passed the first midterm test. There is an average 92.25% attendance rate across both beginner and advanced Khmer classes.


On the 9th of March, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport declared that all education services in Siem Reap city must be suspended after the first case of COVID-19 was discovered. The Khmer teachers have been working from home catch up on their administration work and evaluate the curriculum.

For those students who have access to the internet through their parent’s phones, they are leaning from Human and Hope Association Cambodia’s teachers on Facebook live. For those who don’t, they are collecting homework fortnightly from the community centre. This may delay the students’ ability to progress at public school, depending on how well they can adapt to the temporary change of learning.


*Tevy began studying in Beginner Khmer in May 2019. The daughter of a student in Human and Hope’s sewing program, Tevy is living in extreme poverty.

Despite being nine years old, Tevy was illiterate.

As time went by, Tevy grew into a confident and brave child. Her intelligence shone through once she was in a class with just 16 other students, compared with the 50 she studies with in public school.

Thanks to the dedication from her teacher, the support of her mother, and her commitment to studying, Tevy was able to progress from the Beginner Khmer class to the Advanced Khmer class in just six months. She is ranked second in her class and is now literate. This has enabled Tevy to progress to the English language classes that are offered at Human and Hope. Tevy also spends countless hours in Human and Hope’s library, engaging with Khmer story time and putting together complicated puzzles. When she is older, Tevy wants to be a teacher.

“In four months, the students can read and write most of the words and some sentences fluently, some of them can read some Khmer short stories in the library.”Phyrom Phat, Khmer teacher

This program is partially funded by the Goodridge Foundation.


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