Krousar Thmey, the country’s pre-eminent NGO working to educate disabled children, is in the process of being integrated into the Education Ministry, the company’s director and government officials confirmed Thursday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the National Workshop on Inclusive Education, Herve Roqueplan, director of Krousar Thmey, which was founded to educate children in refugee camps at the Thai border in 1991, said the NGO had a clear exit strategy.
“We are working alongside the government, step by step, and we hope to hand operations over to the Ministry of Education in 2021,” Mr. Roqueplan said of the NGO, which schools more than 1,000 children with disabilities in five locations across the country.
“We use the national curriculum of the Ministry of Education and all our teachers are government-trained,” which will make for a smooth transition, he said, adding that it was time for the Cambodian government and people to take responsibility for the education of disabled children.
In a speech to mark Interna- tional Human Rights Day and International Persons With Disability Day on Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen also said that the Education Ministry must take responsibility for maintaining Krousar Thmey’s 23 years of good work.
“If not, when Krousar Thmey organization leaves, this work will be dissolved…totally,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
Chan Sophea, director of the ministry’s education Department, affirmed Mr. Hun Sen’s views Thursday and reiterated the government’s commitment to reach the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goal on primary education.
“Mr. Hun Sen promises—he is committed—to take the programs that teach disabled children to become officially part of the Ministry of Education,” he said.
“And that is all a part of achieving the target of 100 percent [of] children [in] primary education by 2015.”
Tom Coulter, a British expert in deaf education who in is Cambodia for a month to train and evaluate teachers in his field and has worked in Malawi, New Guinea, Thailand and Oman, said that bringing disabled education under the government’s purview was a positive move.
“It seems that the sector is getting great support from the new minister [Hang Chuon Naron], so it is perfect timing,” he said.
“I have seen them do it the other way in New Guinea, where the government continues to make educating disabled children solely the work of NGOs, and it is a very weak model—it does not work.”