Attempts for developing the Education systems in Cambodia
It was very difficult for the leader in order to develop one country which used to have many wars, particularly, Cambodia. Although, the Khmer Rough was collapsed, the Cambodia society was still in trouble, especially the unstable political as well as the society during 1990s known as Hun Sen and Ranariddh regime (Ayres, 2000). Because of those political climates, Ayres (2000) wrote that “the tardiness of UNTAC’s planning and deployment, the fragility of the reconciliation between the warring faction, the confusion over who had power ,and the declaration on Cambodia reconstruction all affected the policy- making process in education” (p.155).
According to the UNESCO (2000), “Cambodia ratified on the rights of the child (CRC) in 1992 and the national constitution was created in 1993 of the UN- sponsored General Election in the same year Education is recognized by all stakeholders as the key to poverty alleviation and national development” (p.20). In order to improve the education system in Cambodia, UNESCO has also focused on “strengthening the management system, guiding and supporting the reform of curriculum for science education and the production of learning/teaching material” Ayres (as cited in Dy & Ninomiya , 2003).
Although the UNESCO has taken part by using many actions the on going of “changing in educational management in Cambodia was still low. Still the number of trained staff was limited in the Cambodia education system” (Dy & Ninomiya, 2003, P.11).
However, against the background, the Asian development Bank (ADB) agreed to “assist government with a comprehensive sector analysis; firstly to assist with the appraisal of existing policies and strategies, with an emphasis on human resource and financial sustainability during the reconstruction and secondly, to help government formalize a coherent policy and strategic framework…” (ADB, 1996, p. 9).
This research attempt to understand the development process of education system during 1990s by answering the following questions:
How developed the education system during 1990s?
Who were the important actors in the development system process during 1990s?
What problems did exist for that education development system (1990-1997)?
1. Attempts for developing the Education systems in 1990s
Since the beginning 1990s the government as well as the Ministry of education arrange the education system for primary school and secondary school such as curriculum, program extension building, text books, and strengthening teachers under the sponsors of UNESCO and other NGOs, “depending on the socioeconomic circumstances of the early 1990s and recalling that Cambodia was then in a stag of national rehabilitation, basic education was focused on primary education and adult education with the primary aim of enhancing the achievement of literacy and numeracy” (Dy & Nimoniya, 2003, p.3).
In order to reach the achievement for developing the education system, particularly Cambodia during 1990s had some essential factor that need to be focused on “inadequate training and remuneration for teachers, an inappropriate curriculum, rare ,and unevenly distributed teaching aid and materials, dilapidated schools ,and a high drop-out rate” (Ayres, 2000, P. 156).
Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.
“The damage to the infrastructure of education was monumental; Cambodia lost almost three- quarters of its educated population under the Pol Pot regime” ADB & Prasertsri (as cited in Dy & Nimomiya, 2000, p. ) More over Dy & Ninomiya (2003) maintained that “In order for Cambodian to keep abreast of the healthier developing world, modernization of the overall system requires skilled manpower to lead the development process; this underscores the role of education for national rehabilitation” (p.10).
In addition, Asian development bank.(1996) stated that “ the implementation of the program in support of the recovery process will require considerable efforts in capacity building” (p.12)
More over, to reach this goal, several major education conferences (Education for All, 1992; Rebuilding Quality Education and training, 1994) have made significant contributions to the policy development process. Drawing to these documents, the overall current policy priorities are summarized:
Revitalizing and monitoring quality education and training at all levels, rapidly move towards equitable access to 9 years of basic education for all, selective expansion of upper secondary education, rationalization and consolidation of higher education, improve market responsiveness of technical vocation education, ensure maximum cost-efficiency in the use of resources, develop strategies for the diversification of educating financing, especially upper-Secondary levels and beyond, enhance access to basic literacy and non-formal programs, strengthening planning, and management capacity, including aid and coordination. (Asian Development Bank, 1996, p.8)
After the Pol Pot regime collapsed, the government, NGOs, and other external agencies tried very hard to construct the infrastructures, especially the school building “ during the 1990s 77 schools had been constructed by the government, politicians, NGOs and other external agencies” (Bray & Bunly, 2005, p. 64).
To bring Cambodia into the worldwide developed and developing countries’ market was the government’s commitment. In addition, the demand of the global economic changes caused the government taking the education factor as the first priority to develop the country (Ayres, 2000).
Further more, the ministry of education, Ung Hout “articulated this expectation at the National Forum on Foreign Aid to Education- one of the country’s major objectives is to turn out a new generation of youth who will be fully employable and capable of making a contribution to the defense and construction of the nation” (Arey, 2000, P.167). Adding to this point, Bray & Bunly.( 2005) wrote that “Cambodia has had a turbulent past, which has included many dramatic transitions. Several of these transitions have implications for education, including it financing. A few observations about the past assist understanding of the present”(p.12). More over, “following the official abandonment of socialism in 1991, private schools were once again permitted. No pagoda schools of type that had been common prior to 1970 were re-established during 1990s, though 19. 1 per cent of secular primary schools in 2001/2 were located within the compound of pagodas” MoEYS’s report (as cited in Bray & Bunly, 2005, p. 14).
Since the early 1990s, Cambodia has received “considerable resources for all sectors from international aid. Between 1994 and 1997, aid to education expanded from US$29. 1 million to US$53.2 million” Chour & Sereyrath (as cited in Bray & Bunly, 2005, p.17). The aid fell down because of the “political crisis, but in every year from 1994 to 1999 foreign aid to education exceeded the government budget for education, sometimes by a considerable margin” (Bray & Bunly, 2005, p.17).
Besides thinking about the financing to complete the goal, the government, UNESCO as well as the NGOs focused much on the qualified teachers and teaching. After the Pol Pot regime collapsed, the government, NGOs, and other external agencies tried so hard to construct the infrastructures, especially the school building; there were “77 schools which had been built by the government, politican, NGOs, and other external agencies” (Bray & Bunly, 2005, p.64).
One more thing, Arey (2003) mentioned that the remainder of 1994 was concerned with generating framework through which the program could be implemented and as a result, the indicative Policy and Strategic Directions 1994- 2000, reflected the policy advice given the Cambodian government over the previous forty years. The strategy included:
Increasing the hours of instruction to accord with international norm, reducing the number under qualified teachers, Khmer zing instruction [in higher education], emphasizing improvements in educational quality, and simplifying the curriculum to foster greater relevance (p.166-167).
In Cambodia following the UNESCO’s framework, “Basic Education is constitutionally defined as night years of formal schooling, comprising primary and lower secondary education. It aims to contribute to improvement in the socioeconomic sphere as a whole and the basic education must meet the basic learning needs of all human being” UNESCO (as cited in Dy & Ninomaya, 2003, p. 11).
“The curriculum was developing in the early/mid 1990s and finalized in 1996, at a time when curriculum development capacity within the ministry was very limited” (Smith, 2000, p. 5). In addition, Smith (2000), added that “ Support was received from a number of different sources, although these did not always operate in a coordinated way and Some curriculum development staff were given the opportunity to see school systems at work outside Cambodia, although this tended to be for short periods” (p.5).
Adding to this, “a key ingredient of quality improvement will be to expand and regular hours of instructional time and taking account of teaching space and cost-efficiency considerations, the mission proposes retention of the 4-41/2 hours school day for primary school” (ADB, 1996, p.114). More over, ADB (1996), added that “to increase instructional time, one measure could be introduction of a 38-40 week-school year and introduction of a six- day week” (p.140).
“ The main part of Cambodia’s education system has a 6+3+3 structure; Six years of primary schooling are followed by three years of lower secondary schooling and three years of upper secondary schooling” (Bray & Bunly, 2005, p.19).
One more point, “the official school age at the primary level is from 6 to 11 years and 12 to 14 for the lower secondary school; pupils are advanced through grade 1 to 6 after passing tests at the end of years, pupils who fail a grade can repeat only twice the primary cycle but only once for lower secondary schools” (Dy & Ninomaya, 2003, p. 11).
Besides the curriculum, “the 1996 Textbooks Master Plan envisaged production and distribution of book for grade 1-9 over a 5- year period, and this has been achieved” (Smith, 2000, p. 5). More over, “with UNICEF assistance, 2-2.5 million books p.a have been supplied to school” (ADB, 1996, p.116).
2. Important actors in the development system process during 1990s
“As promised at the 1990 EFA Conference, UNESCO, UNICEF, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank have an important role in assisting Cambodia in nation reconstruction and rehabilitation” (Dy & Ninomaya, 2003, p. 11)
3. Some existing problems in the education system development process in 1990s.
In December 1996, the ministry in charge of rehabilitation and development, keat Choun, finally conceded the government’s financing failure:
The national budget for education sector as a whole over the past four years has remained at less than 10% of [budget expenditure]. Given these figures, the goal of reaching from 12% to 15% of the budget in the year 2000 will not be achieved. (Ayres, 2003, p.173)
Furthermore, Ayres (2003), wrote that “The corruption was a product of the very poor salary received by Cambodia’s teachers and education officials. Even when an educator’s salary was paid, it was frequently late in arriving and often did not equal the total entitlement” (p.175). Adding this point, it was a major issue or problem since 1990s. It has also “concerned the low level of teacher’s salaries; in 1993, teachers were earning on average just US$6 per month from their official salaries. To raise these earning , in 1994 the government gave a general 20 per cent salary rise from civil servants plus a ‘prime pedagogique’ of US$8 per month to teachers and other education officers” ADB (as cited in Bray & Bunly, 2005, p.20).
“There remain formidable challenges for Cambodia policy makers in realizing the 1990 WCEFA’s goals. On the other hand, as demonstrated which have already mentioned above, the progress toward these goals with the essential presence of UNESCO has been considerable and overall encouraging” (Dy & Ninomaya, 2003, p. 15).
Furthermore, increasing time, providing more books and changing curriculum were not enough in 1990s; training the teachers was also very necessary because the teachers educated the students. If the teachers did not have the quality, the aims for improving the “human resources” did not work. According to ADB (1996) stated that “this situation argues strongly for measures to improve classroom effectiveness and training the teachers in order to involve students in active learning, and how to design class test etc” (p. 120).
“A key enabling factor in achieving those EFA’s policy objectives will be to strengthen local capabilities, for both government and manage, implement and monitor education investments. Enhancing the capacity” (ADB, 1996, p. 8).
Name: TIM ROATHA Date: March 11, 2011
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