Factory Literacy Program Expands to S Rieng

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, in collaboration with UNESCO and the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), on June 11 launched a workplace literacy course at the Elite factory in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in the province of Svay Rieng.

The course will provide lifelong learning opportunities for garment factory workers, marking the first time the program has been extended to the province, located on the border with Vietnam along the Southern Economic Corridor. of the greater Mekong sub-region.

In Cambodia, the garment sector is one of the main drivers of economic growth, providing formal employment for 650,000 workers. According to UNESCO, 85% of garment workers are women, largely from rural and remote areas.

Illiteracy and low levels of literacy remain challenges, as many garment workers have dropped out of school with low levels of basic education, UNESCO said in a press release obtained by The Post on Monday. June 13.

To address this, the Ministry of Education and UNESCO launched the Factory Literacy Program (FLP) to equip workers in the garment industry, especially women, with basic functional literacy and skills development to improve the overall competitiveness and sustainability of industry in Cambodia.

Nhem Phinareth, head of the ministry of literacy in the department of non-formal education, said at the event that the ministry is committed to supporting opportunities for workers to upskill through the FLP and welcomes the partnership with the private sector and development partners in the Kingdom.

“Through the FLP, factory workers, including women and girls, are equipped with skills and knowledge such as financial and legal literacy and knowledge about reproductive health, nutrition, workers’ rights, communications and productivity while improving their daily reading and writing, critical thinking, communication and work performance,” the press release reads.

Courses are delivered in the factories where they work to provide flexibility for workers to access re-skilling and upskilling opportunities.

At the end of the eight-month program, learners receive a certificate equivalent to a Cambodian primary education, which they can use to continue their studies in formal or non-formal educational institutions.

More than 2,500 workers have benefited from the FLP since its launch, according to UNESCO.

A joint study by UNESCO-UNEVOC and the National Center for Vocational Education found that investments in workplace literacy result in improved worker confidence and communication.

“Workers trained in basic literacy and numeracy skills make fewer mistakes and require less supervision on the job, leading to cost savings and better performance for businesses.

“Recognizing the importance of FLP to employers and workers, especially women, GMAC, through the Cambodian Garment Training Institute (CGTI), has strongly supported FLP as a strategic partner since 2021 “, he noted.

The successful partnership between the Ministry of Education, UNESCO and GMAC has supported the scaling up of FLP across Cambodia, through the network provided by GMAC to promote and encourage factories to join the program, said UNESCO.

Andrew Tey, CGTI’s center director, said it’s important that factories provide opportunities for Cambodian workers to develop individually and professionally.

“Literacy and numeracy are fundamental skills for improving worker productivity and livelihoods. Higher worker productivity then leads to improved plant productivity and efficiency,” he said.

FLP is part of the second phase of the joint United Nations program on decent employment for young people in Cambodia supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and UNESCO, in synergy with the capacity development program for the UNESCO Education.

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