The low rate of literacy is a challenge for the Cambodian education system and, after disappointing national reading achievement scores, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS) decided to shift their national early grade curriculum to a more phonics-based approach. This change gave World Education the opportunity to work with MoEYS to improve early grade reading instruction practices, and to introduce new evidence-based approaches.
World Education Works to Improve Early Grade Reading Practices in Cambodia
To support MoEYS in their efforts to improve early grade reading in Cambodia, World Education staff developed a series of projects aimed at introducing more evidence-based practices into Cambodian schools, and involving parents and communities in literacy promotion.
Total Reading Approach for Children (TRAC) (2012-14)
The Total Reading Approach for Children (TRAC) pilot project was funded under the All Children Reading Grand Challenge initiative. TRAC’s innovative design took a holistic approach to early grade reading instruction, introducing a benchmark-based continuous assessment system to Cambodian schools. In the TRAC system, when assessment results reveal that students are struggling, a Rapid Response System (RRS) is initiated. Students are matched with interventions that help them practice the reading skills they need the most.
TRAC Literacy Coaches
The literacy coach position was created under the TRAC system to help schools incorporate more effective early grade reading practices. Literacy coaches mobilize the Rapid Response System, serve as a liaison between schools and parents, and support teachers in their early grade reading instruction.
Activities include reaching out to parents to support their children’s reading at home, peer tutoring, and access to reading games including the mLearning app, a set of tablet-based reading games and interactive stories that were developed by the TRAC team.
Encouraging a Culture of Reading
The TRAC system encourages the cultivation of literacy practices by making reading fun for children. Games enrich the learning environment, and school libraries are made child-friendly with welcoming displays and materials.
The M-Learning App
The mobile learning app, developed as part of the TRAC project, is a collection of reading games and interactive stories that are fun and engaging, and also target key reading skills.
Results and Expansion (TRAC+, 2014-17)
The results of the TRAC pilot were very promising, and the reading benchmark and assessment system that World Education developed with MoEYS advisors has been formally approved by the Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport and adopted for use in primary schools nationwide.
The TRAC system is now being expanded through the Total Reading Approach for Children Plus+ (TRAC+) project, funded by World Vision Cambodia. Through TRAC+, World Education staff are promoting early grade reading in 170 schools in 5 Cambodian provinces.
Technology for Education Systems Transformation (TEST) (2014-15)
To further improve on the use of evidence-based instruction, the Technology for Education Systems Transformation (TEST) project, funded by USAID’s Development Innovation Venture, has digitized and automated the TRAC continuous assessment system.
Improved Management of Education Data Through TEST
The TEST app revolutionizes education data management in Cambodia, and will soon allow the ministry to track early grade reading progress at a national level.
A Holistic, Innovative Approach to Early Grade Reading
Effective early grade reading projects like TRAC, TRAC+, and TEST are holistic, recognizing that students and schools need multiple supports to improve early grade reading practices. They are innovative, bringing new, engaging materials and activities to schools. And they are informed, using data to identify areas of need and to spot trends.
This video provides more in-depth information about World Education’s TRAC system.
Learn more about World Education’s work in Cambodia on worlded.org.