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Experimenting with science in Cambodia!

Summary : Since 2002, the "La main à la pâte" Foundation has helped Cambodia to develop and implement a new method of science teaching based on an investigative approach. Initially only intended for bilingual franco-khmere primary school classes, the program then spread out to all primary schools on a voluntary basis for levels 4, 5 and 6.

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  • Start date : 2002
  • Implementation site : Cambodia
  • Budget : 18000 €
  • Source and details on funding : Charles and Rodolphe Merieux Foundation


  • Institut National de l'Education
  • 123 Boulevard Norodom
  • Phnom Penh
  • Employees : 3
  • Volunteers : 0


Editorial committee

  • Date of proofreading :  19/04/2015 00:00
Opinion of the Committee : High impact !
Solution(s) : Education
Country :  Cambodia
Stature of the programme : 
Participant :  Public institution
  • Beneficiaries :  Pupil, students
  • Domain :  Science, Education, Training

Copyright: Licence Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ )
To reference a document published by RESOLIS : Khim Hour , « Experimenting with science in Cambodia! », **Journal RESOLIS** (2015)

Background to the programme

As part of a French cooperation with Cambodia, the La main à la pâte Foundation (Lamap) method has been applied since 2002 in bilingual franco-khmer classes at the request of the University for Francophones. This method promotes the learning of science through an investigative approach: students learn by experimenting, just like scientists. For the purpose of rolling out the project, the National Institute of Education took over the project in July 2006 which then became a national program of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MOEYS), for all primary schools on a voluntary basis (initially only for grade 6).
Since then, a work plan is written each year in order to follow the further development of the program and the training of teachers.

Objectives of the programme

-To allow children to learn by experimenting. Traditionally, science is normally taught like reading.
-To adapt the Lamap method to the context of Cambodia.
-Objectives have developed: initially, it was to increase the quality of the teaching of sciences in bilingual primary schools (6th grade), then it developed across schools on a volunteer basis and was extended to grades 4 and 5 in primary schools.

Implemented actions

-Between 2002 and 2004, 5 Cambodian primary school inspectors received a week of training per year by trainers from La main à la pâte (Lamap): to control teaching methods, train teachers and develop suitable teaching resources.
-2005: training of teachers in 9 schools in the bilingual program (only grade 6 of primary school)
-From 2006: extension of the programme to voluntary non-bilingual classes. The 5 trained inspectors have developed educational resources with the help of Lamap trainers in French, then translated them into khmer. The idea was to develop activities and resources which correspond with the Ministry's programs. The trainers present the program to schools, and if the school wants it, they receive training with other schools. Teachers are trained for four days, for 7 hours per day. All the teachers are trained together (regardless of the level they teach) because they are brought together to have a varietyof levels. The schools together make up a group and one of them is responsible for the management of the teacher tool kits.
Priority is given to rural schools because schools in urban areas have more tools and support available.
-From 2010: extension of the programme to the 5th grade of primary school (development of new teaching resources)
-From 2013: extension of the programme to the 4th grade of primary school (development of new resources) and training of new trainers in 10 provincial Educational schools.
-January 2015: Evaluation of the program by 2 Lamap trainers

Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions

-11 teacher tool-kits created for grade 6 of primary education; 6 for grade 5. 2000 educational guides produced for each of the grades.
-22.694 students have benefited from this approach since the beginning of the programme, in 140 schools
-590 teachers trained since the beginning
-10 Provincial Educational Schools trained according to Lamap pedagogy.
-The teachers are satisfied and find that children learn science better. They are all continuing to use the educational resources.
-The trainers at the educational schools already knew the IBSE method (Inquiry - Based Science Education), but the resources developed with Lamap are more practical.
-Results of the assessment conducted in January 2015 are still forthcoming

Original characteristics

The "La main à la pâte" Foundation have strongly supported this program in Cambodia: training of trainers, help for the development of educational resources, support with the preparation of funding applications and annual work plans. The trainers from the pilot centre in Bergerac (France) have been very involved since the beginning.

Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme

-Laos and Vietnam are to develop the program regionally. Laos: have been given the modules and educational resources developed so that they can be inspired to develop their own resources
-10 provincial Educational Schools (25 in total in Cambodia)


Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :

-Difficult to find funding. The Christophe and Rodolphe Mérieux foundation has provided financial support since 2005 but the grant ended in July 2015.
-Number of children per class is sometimes very high: around 40-50 on average (it is rare to have only 30), and in isolated schools there are up to 70 pupils due to a lack of teachers.

Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :

-Chose to work with schools where there are only 30-40 students per class, since otherwise it is not possible to apply the pedagogy
-Look for new funding, and seek the help of Lamap in this process

Suggestions for future improvement :

-Continue the generalisation of the program in the country. Extension to other grades and other groups of schools.

Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :

-Need to have funding. In Laos, there is no specific subsidy for the program, the program has difficulties in developing properly.

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