Cambodia First Read Baseline

Report (Short Version)


The objective of the study was to develop a better understanding of the parents, children, and communities who were about to receive interventions from Phase 2 of the First Read program.

Author: Holly-Jane Howell, Lauren Pisani, Bounkheang Kou, Phalla Hok, Agnes Chew (editor)
Organization: Save the Children
Date: April 26, 2017
Country: Cambodia


First Read is a Save the Children UK (SCUK) program that recognizes the importance of home-based ECCD approaches.  Home-based ECCD is the cornerstone of First Read, stemming from an acknowledgment by Save the Children UK that centre-based interventions may not be feasible to establish in all contexts due to running costs, dispersed settlements, or a lack of suitable infrastructure.  Meaning that a centralized ECCD centre may still not be convenient for everyone. For this reason, First Read promotes a community-based parenting approach.

Cambodia: Understanding the Context

The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has committed to improve ECCD services by adopting the first ECCD National Policy in 2010, bringing together 11 ministries. The subsequent launch of the ECCD National Action Plan 2014 – 2018  “seeks to increase enrolment and enhance protection for children aged 0 to under 6 years, especially children from poor families, indigenous minorities and children with disabilities, and prioritise community-based pre-schools and home-based early childhood education programmes” . It plans to spend over US$56million, the majority of which will be spent on on expanding ECCD services provision, including state, community, private and home-based services.

First Read was launched in Cambodia in 2013, with the aim of developing an evidence base to demonstrate that working through parents and caregivers in the home environment is not only cost and resource effective, but can result in more equitable gains for children regardless of background, increased emergent literacy and numeracy scores, and more confident children and parents. First Read has reached 36,000 children in Phase 1, and is currently in Phase 2 of implementation. The desired outcomes for First Read Phase 2 in Cambodia are to:

  1. Access to resources: Children aged 0-3 y.o in the targeted communities have increased access to high-quality, age-appropriate, local/national language books.
  2. Parents change their behaviour: Parents/caregivers use books and apply positive parenting approaches to engage with children aged 0-3 y.o, resulting in improvements to cognitive development.
  3. Mobilize authority figures and the community: Increased commitment of resources, support or programming for home-based ECCD activities from community groups, agencies, and local authorities.

To achieve the desired outcomes, First Read has 4 key intervention pillars:

  1. Book Development: To develop high-quality, age-appropriate children’s books, by strengthening the capacity of local publishers, illustrators, writers and editors while stimulating demand for children’s books amongst parents, ECCD service providers and children’s book suppliers.
  2. Book Gifting: To maximize the use of available reading and play-based materials through partnering with NGOs, government actors and local authorities to promote early stimulation and interaction between young children and caregivers and between young children and their siblings.
  3. Family Learning: To develop young children’s motor skills, language and cognitive, social and emotional skills and emergent literacy, by supporting caregivers through regular parenting sessions led by parent group leaders within the community.
  4. Community Action: To support local structures such as communes and primary schools, by engaging key community actors and helping to strengthen capacity through providing technical support and links with education authorities at district and provincial levels.