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Smart Axiata has announced that it will continue to support UNESCO’s Basic Education Equivalency Programme (BEEP) as a telco partner, providing devices and data for out-of-school youth to complete lower secondary education and working alongside Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

Since BEEP’s establishment in 2018 by UNESCO, with support from the two ministries, Cambodia’s leading mobile telecommunications operator Smart Axiata has supported BEEP by providing access to the platform to ensure out-of-school youth can complete the programme and pursue further education at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes or technical schools.

BEEP offers a total of 11 e-learning subjects, which are available on Moodle in Khmer for students to choose from and learn. The programme provides flexible, alternative education to out-of-school youth, enabling them to complete lower secondary/basic education up to the equivalent of Grade 9. UNESCO’s BEEP initiative is part of the UN joint programme on Decent Employment for Youth (DEY) Phase II in Cambodia, which is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. DEY Phase II aims to help young women and men in Cambodia obtain decent and productive employment opportunities by ensuring they are better able to meet labour market demands and are prepared for quality employment.

BEEP also enables Cambodian youth to complete their education while continuing professional activities. The basic education qualification provided by BEEP upon completion of the programme allows learners to pursue decent employment opportunities.

Between 2019 and 2020, 21 BEEP learning centres were established in 11 provinces across Cambodia, with 35 learning centres planned across 15 provinces by 2023.

Smart Axiata has committed to provide 350 tablets and 350 SIM cards with unlimited data, Internet packages to allow 500 students to access courses free of charge and five laptops for program coordination purposes for the ministries administering the program.

“Access to education is a basic human right, one that we at Smart believe in very strongly. By harnessing the power of technology, young people, especially those who have entered the workforce without basic qualifications, have now the opportunity to continue learning, growing and improving. Advancing Cambodia through education has been the driving force behind many of our programs and we are proud to continue our partnership with UNESCO and the relevant ministries to address the urgent need of providing ongoing educational opportunities to young people,” said Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt.

Enrolled learners will be given free Internet access by Smart Axiata to the e-learning courses and can take courses that interest them at their own pace.

One way that BEEP can make significant and lasting impact is through its linkage with the Factory Literacy Programme, which allows young women working in factories to acquire basic literacy skills and to empower them to realize their fundamental rights.

Learners who pass the course’s final exam are provided a certificate of completion by their respective Provincial Office of Education, Youth and Sport that is recognized by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (with the course being the equivalent of a Grade 6 education).

Factory workers graduating from the Factory Literacy Programme can continue their education through enrolment in BEEP and get their lower secondary education equivalency as well.

“UNESCO is pleased to continue working together with Smart Axiata to provide flexible and digital educational solutions for students of BEEP learning centres to pursue their studies remotely. This public-private partnership will create more opportunities to ensure youth can access quality education and job-oriented skills,” said UNESCO Country Representative Mr. Sardar Umar Alam.

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