DfG Menstrual Health Teacher Training and Education in Cambodia
In 2019, Days for Girls began a strategic partnership with the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) with the goal of developing and implementing age-appropriate and culturally-sensitive puberty and menstrual health (MH) education lessons for fifth-grade students throughout the country.
This project is unique in that this is the first time DfG has engaged with the Ministry of Education and developed both a curriculum to train teachers and student lessons to this degree of specialty. Advocacy was a vital component of this project, and we could not have implemented this program without the government’s support. For example, before beginning the project, we worked to get buy-in and support from MoEYS (who were already committed to the improvement of menstrual health in schools), which we obtained by exhibiting our MH education, advocating that teachers trained in MH would feel more knowledgeable and comfortable teaching it, and presenting the idea to train them and develop lessons that are more detailed and age-appropriate. Due to our advocacy efforts, the Ministry accepted our proposal and, with us, initiated a three-year MOU with DfG and authorized project implementation.
The Menstrual Health Teacher Training and Education Pilot Project
For Cambodian students, we have two newly designed lesson plans, that expand on our Ambassador of Women’s Health (AWH) curriculum. While both, consist of timely, accurate and age appropriate content, DfGI’s AWH curriculum and graphics were combined with new interactive activities, as well as a story, and three activities from WASH United’s Menstrual Health Management Education Guide. This new Cambodian curriculum is specifically tailored to be culturally appropriate, and is intended to be taught by local teachers in their own classrooms.
In May-June this year, the Menstrual Health Teacher Training and Education Pilot Project was rolled out, in which teachers, newly trained in MH curricula, taught their fifth and sixth grade students the new lessons.
A Multifaceted Approach
The project consisted of two parts: DfG’s teacher training (ToT) and the teachers’ delivery of the MH lessons to the students. First we trained Master Teachers from the Phnom Penh Teacher Education College (TEC). One of them was then selected to come with our DfG team to three provinces, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, and Kratie, to deliver the ToT with DfG Chief Programs Officer, Leyla Isin-Xiong, to the classroom teachers, who later taught the MH lessons directly to their students.
The teacher training curriculum was designed by Days for Girls and consisted of several modules: 1) introduction to MH in the Cambodia context and an explanation of why we are doing this project together; 2) Comprehensive MH Knowledge (AWH); 3) Curriculum Methodology and Teaching Techniques for open, engaging and interactive MH sessions; 4) Grade 5 lessons deep dive and practice; 5) Preparation and support for teaching students. We delivered the ToT seven times to the Master Teachers and Province Classroom Teachers.
Once the teachers were trained, it was time for them to teach their students. Education delivery to the students consisted of two grade-five lessons introducing puberty and menstruation. An aspect of ToT that is unique to DfG is that our trainers followed through on the implementation of the training, staying with the teacher-trainees and observing and supporting them while they taught the education to the secondary school students and giving them feedback afterward. Much of this feedback included student reports of being engaged in the learning, how much knowledge they gained, and how much they valued these sessions.
Speaking of the project, Cambodia Rural Education Support Organization (CRESO) Program Manager Tiann Monie said, “Access to education about this project is critical for girls, boys, women and men in empowering them to understand not only puberty, but the changes occurring in their bodies. It is also important for girls and boys to understand how to manage menstruation safely, hygienically and with confidence. A recent study showed that most pubescent girls (16-19) in Cambodia have a basic knowledge regarding puberty and menstruation. However the study showed that many girls lack scientific knowledge of the physiological menstrual process. The Cambodia grade five menstrual health management (MHM) lesson plans enable teachers to provide female and male students with essential knowledge about puberty and MHM in an exciting and engaging way.”
Project Impact by the Numbers
The success of the project assessed by measuring shifts related to MH education and advocacy and by documenting the number of government, teacher and student participants and related data. The following are numbers collected throughout the project that evidence its scope:
- 28 teachers trained
- 471 students educated
- 3 provinces reached, in addition to Phnom Penh Municipality
- 7 educational institutions engaged
- 5 Ministry of Education Youth and Sport entities involved
- 542 pre/post surveys collected
- 6 focus group discussions including 48 students
- 5 individual in-depth interviews
Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation
Initial feedback from the teachers, students and provincial education departments has been very positive, including their expressed desire for our return. On the b
asis of that positive partnership and response, and with government support, DfG is signing a new MOU with the MoEYS this month to continue the vital work of bringing increased puberty and MH education to girls and boys throughout Cambodia.
Our project with Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport is one of the most comprehensive monitoring, learning and evaluation studies (MLE) that DfG has done. Through this study, we qualitatively and quantitatively measured changes in knowledge, confidence and attitudes surrounding puberty and menstruation for the teachers and students, and the overall impact of the ToT and delivery of the lesson plans. We engaged an independent MLE company to co-design the study and to collect, analyze and report on the data findings. This November, we will publish this extensive report, and DfG’s Global Advocacy Director and Chief Programs Officer will present the MLE findings to all stakeholders in Cambodia.
Equipped with data from the pilot, DfG and partners are entering a phase of analysis of MLE data to explore the effectiveness
of the program and key lessons learned. Knowing that local leadership is central to program success, we will share our findings with Master Teachers, classroom teachers and provincial leaders for their input and work with them to develop a proposal with future recommendations that will be presented to the MoEYS. Our ultimate goal, together with local partners, is to have our lesson plans and ToT included and nationally endorsed as an MH resource for teachers in order to equip and empower them in all public schools across Cambodia to deliver holistic MH education to all grade five students on an ongoing basis.
Possible options ahead:
- Expand the grade five lessons to more schools and students in the same three provinces (including training of additional teachers at those schools).
- Replicate and scale the project model to additional provinces (including the ToT, grade five lessons, and MLE).
- Develop grade six and/or grade seven+ lessons as follow-up from our grade five lessons; implement these lessons at the same pilot schools to provide continuity.
- A combination of the above options, where we expand in existing provinces, add additional provinces, and develop resources and lessons for students in grades six and seven.
Days for Girls is excited about this opportunity to innovate in education and diversify our own curriculum. We are proud of the new pathways we have forged for MH with MoEYS, and hope for additional avenues to deepen our relationship with the Cambodian government, teachers and students, and bring more MH awareness and advocacy across the country.