Direct Household Costs Of Basic Education In Cambodia

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Cambodia is one of the developing countries in the world, which has gone through many dreadful experiences and political conflicts. Most of public services including educational infrastructure had been destroyed since it fell into the civil war and needed to be restored. Early 1980s, Vietnamese-supported government in Phnom Penh was formed to rehabilitate the country economic especially education systems, but this encountered hindrance which has to be struggled in a prolonged period (J. Duggan, 1996).

Legislation and Policy in the context of EFA

In accordance with the constitution of Cambodia in articles 65 and 66, every Cambodian has right to access to qualify education at all levels with a full education system and equal chance in building life. And the world trend emphasizes the "Education For All, All For Education." (MoEYS, 2008). In order to strengthen education system MoEYS also set three major policies on education development which means that, firstly form nine years basic education available all over the country, secondly modernize and improve the quality of education system and thirdly link it with the socio-economic requirement of the labour market (UNESCO, 2001). Furthermore, education is considered as the significant public sector to develop country infrastructure as one of the four sides of the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government of Cambodia states that: "Capacity building and human resource development"(Royal Government of Cambodia, 2004).

In order to achieve MoEYS's goals above, how do households contribute to their children's schooling and do the costs of education impact on household income?

Does household expenditure affect enrolment and attendance?

Enrolment Rate

Since the end of internal conflict in 1990s, Cambodia has made steady social progress including increasing the number of children enrolled in schools (CESR, 2006). According to UNESCO 2010, primary enrolment increased by 15% annually meaning that MoEYS is getting 350, 000 more children into school every year; especially girls in rural areas and children from poor families. The recent data records by 2010 WFP also showed that Cambodia has a high (NER) at primary school level up to 94.8% in 2009/2010 (WFP, 2010).

As a result, net enrollment in primary and secondary schools, as well as transition rates from primary to secondary levels, have all indicated varying degrees of improvement (WFP, 2010).

According to 2003 WB, primary school net enrolment has increased up to 93.3% in 2007/2008 from 83.8% in 2000/2001 and 77.8% in 1997/1998. In general, NER at primary schools had been increasing over the period 1996 to 2001 from 84.7% to 87% (WB, 2003).

The lower secondary enrolment has grown by 120% from seven years ago. Secondary enrolment rate has clearly increased to 63.6% in 2007/2008 from 27% in 2000/2001, but decreased slightly in 2008/2009 for the first time since 2004/2005. Net enrolment rate (NER) declined for the second year consecutive from 34.8%in 2007/2008 to 33.9% in 2008/2009 and 31.9% in 2009/2010 which is far below the target of 43%. At the same time, NER for girls also still higher than that of boys, decreased from 35% in 2008/2009 to 33.7% in 2009/2010 (UNESCO, 2010).

Drop-out Rates

A large proportion of school-age children enter school late, repeat several grades and eventually drop out without completing six years of primary. Poverty is the most important factor that causes children to drop out of schools (MOEYS, 2005).

Based on 2005 WB data, national dropout rates at primary school level have changed slightly since 1997 within a range of 14.8% to 11.4%. MoEYS's commitment during the presentation on the strategies to increase survival rate stated that: "The dropout rate at the primary school has been reduced from 15% in 1997 to 12% in 2005, but this rate remain high and needed to be further reduced." (MoEYS,2007), but the 2008 USAID data differently mentioned that dropout rates ranged between 10% and 16%, with greatly higher rates in remote rural areas. Grade repetition rates are also very high. Estimates suggest that it takes 19 pupil-years to produce each primary school graduate. Less than 50% of the age cohort reaches grade five (USAID, 2008).

The study of 2011 WFP showed that dropout rates have actually increased among children at grade 1, but these have not occurred among higher primary grades. Unexpectedly, dropout rates in lower secondary school seem to be decreasing much more quickly for both boys and girls than is true in primary schools. The data also proved that the drop-out rates for grade 1 to grade 6 between the period 1999 and 2003 had increased for grade 1 to 2 and grade 5 to 6, but slightly decreased for grade 3 and grade 4. The drop-out rates reached its highest level in the transition from primary to lower secondary school and remained high throughout this level of schooling (WFP, 2011).

Is household income balancing with household expenditure?

Household income

Depending on the study of MoE and UNDP (2005), Most of Cambodian households (95%) stated farming as their main source of income, especially rice farming (92%). Only 5% of Cambodian population is not farmers (MoE & UNDP, 2005).

More than one third of Cambodians live under the poverty line, struggling to survive on less than $1 a day. Poverty is especially spreading widely in rural areas and among children, who comprised more than half of the country's population. (UNICEF, 2006) Cambodia is one of the least developed countries in the world; in 1997 UNDP ranked it 153 out of 174 countries

(Bray, 1999).

The study of NGO Education Partnership showed that monthly household income range from below $25 to more than $ 195. The overall average income is $ 104.92 a month per family. The average of household income for urban areas was approximately $162, which was much higher than rural areas (NGOEP, 2007).

How much does each household contribute to their children's schooling?

Household expenditure on Children's schooling

The costs of household on education are expenditures by parents on their children's schooling, such as expenditures on school fees (tuition and other school fees), textbooks, writing supplies, uniforms, boarding fees, transportation etc. According to UNICEF 2007, household contributed 77 percent in 1997 and later was reduced to 56 percent in 2004 to the direct cost of sending a child to school (UNICEF, 2007).

Based on Bray and Seng (2005), direct household cost is classified into eight categories,

which is summed up in four main components: Beginning-of-year costs, daily costs, school fees and other costs (NGO Education Partnership, 2007).

Beginning-of-year Costs: School start-up costs are broken into school uniforms, study materials and school registration.

School uniforms are consisting of daily uniforms, sport uniforms and shoes. Daily uniforms are considered as school requirement, which is more or less enforced strictly in schools according to the school rules set by MoEYS (Bray & Bunly, 2005). The costs of uniforms are ranging from 15,000Riels to 48,000Riels. Spending on this item is based on the living standard of students' families, which means that rich families can afford more than the poor ones. Some rural families reported that they cannot afford to pay for shoes and sport uniforms, because they are also too expensive. This may cause problems in their children's sport activities depending on the teachers' decisions (NGO Ed. Partnership, 2007).

Study materials include school bags, text books, notebooks, notebook or text book covers and writing implements (NGO Ed. Partnership, 2007). Since the start of PAP7 (Priority Action Program), students could borrow textbooks free of charge but sometime they required to pay for the cost of covers. The cost of notebooks and exercise books varied according to the numbers and types of the books. Students in lower grade use fewer books than the ones in higher grade. Some students from poor household reduced the numbers of books they needed or bought low quality books. Students use schoolbags to load their books and other stationery, rich families can afford to buy various schoolbags for their children every year, whereas the poor families use the used plastic bags to carry their learning materials. In order to study, students need writing implements such as pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, etc. Most of households can afford to purchase these items, which depended on grades, family standard and the behavior of students (Bray & Bunly, 2005).

Registration fees include the service of filling out the form by teachers, photos, study record booklets and other cost, such as utilities. The data of NGO Education Partnership 2007 stated that parents paid 2,500riels for photos; 1,000 riel for record booklets and 2,800riels for sport activities, garbage collecting and utilities (water and electricity). Most of the students were asked to pay for monthly fee of between 300riels to 500riels included teachers' service of filling in the booklets and sending home to their parents (NGOEP, 2007).

Daily Cost: The costs students spent every day on food. Parents pay a large part of their income on food, but Bray said that the cost of food and snacks is one that parents have to pay anyway. Most parents give their children pocket money for snacks breakfast and lunch is included if they stay back in schools or the schools are far from home. The cost of pocket money varies depending on living standards of the families. Bray and Bunly 2005 found that the standard amounts were ranged from 200riels to200reils (Bray & Bunly, 2005).

Small pupils usually buy snacks from their form teachers, who earn money to supplement their small salaries. The pupils who do not purchase snacks form their own teachers result in getting low marks (NGOEP, 2007).

School Fees: The amount of money paid by parents on children's schooling such as teacher fees, supplementary tutoring, lesson handouts and exam papers (NGOEP, 2007).

Primary students are asked to pay teacher fees daily in normal class assigned by MoEYS. The fees were extremely high for all grade levels in urban areas up to 50,000riels per child a year (NGOEP, 2007).

Lower secondary students pay teacher fees only for supplementary tutoring on subjects they attend, particularly Khmer, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. There are two types of private tutoring, firstly teachers give extra class to their own students and conduct in the classrooms they are teaching, and secondly they give private classes to students who are from different classes or schools. The first type, teachers encourage their students to attend by adding extra marks to the students' work in the real classes. The later, it is a type of supplementary lessons to the slow students or to the ones who prepare for their national exams. The costs of fees are not only different by location but also by subject. The most expensive fees are mathematics and physics and the rest of the subjects are cheaper (Bray & Bunly, 2005).

According to Bray and Bunly, students were asked to pay for exam papers four time in semester one and three time in semester two and students paid approximately 2,200reils per month. In addition, grade-nine students must pay an exam fee set by MoEYS and other materials needed before the exams.

Other Costs: Other expenses incur over the whole year including study supplies, class supplies, bike maintenance, gift for teachers and raising money for ceremonies. These costs of fees are occasionally paid throughout the year. Based on the data of NGOEP 2007, families spent less than 7,000reils on study supplies, 1,300riels on class supplies, 6,500riels on bike maintenance, 1,500riels on teachers' gift and 2,200riels on contribution to ceremonies.


Large families among the low-income families with more than three school-age children either live in urban or rural areas normally encounter problem in sending children to schools, because family income cannot afford their children's school expenditure. However, MoEYS started introducing PAPs in 1998 to decline household expenses; the cost of schooling remains high. Moreover, most of the poor families are unable to pay the cost of schooling that causes the number of dropouts increase every year.

The previous study also showed that household direct costs of schooling, especially pocket money, costs of school fees, and supplementary tutoring, remain significant for the majority of Cambodian families. MoEYS and its partners play an important role in getting students into schools in order to reduce the number of dropouts and increase the net enrolment rate.

Increasing the number of school-age children among the poorest families is a result of malnutrition and lack of preschool experiences-is another factor that especially impacts negatively on Grade 1 repetition and drop-out. Late school entry is another factor that has serious consequences on drop-out rate especially for girls (MOEYS, 2005).

Reference Lists

Bray & Bunly. (2005). Balancing the Books: Household Financing of Basic Edu. in Cambodia.

Center for Economic and Social Rights: Cambodia

Mark Bray. (1999). The Private Cost of Public Schooling: Household and Community Financing of Primary Education in Cambodia.

MoEYS. (2008). Country Report: New Trend and Present Situation of Adult Learning and Education. CONFINTEA VI Preparatory Conference in Asia and the Pacific: Seoul, Korea 6-8/10/08

MoEYS. (2005).

NGO Education Partnership. (2007).The impact of informal school fee on family Expenditure

October, 2007.

Royal Government of Cambodia. (2004). The Rectangular strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and efficiency in Cambodia. Phnom Penh, July, 2004

Stephen J. Duggan. (1996). Education, Teacher Training and Prospects for Economic Recovery in Cambodia. v32 n3 p361-75 Nov 1996


UNESCO. (2001). Financial Management of Education System: Educational Financing and Budgeting in Cambodia. November, 2001

UNESCO. (2010). Expanded Basic Education Program( EBEP) Phase II: 2006-2010: Paris, April, 2010

UNICEF. (2007). Universal Primary Education: Reaching the unreached in Cambodia.

October, 2007

USAID. (2008). Good Education.

WB. (2003). Cambodian Secondary Education Study: Educational Demand in Basic Education Sector & Strategies foe enhancement. September, 2003

WFP. (2010). Primary education: Enrolment Rate and Dropout Rate: 2010

WFP. (2011): Primary Education.…


I, Hort Hor, would like to assert that the assignment above is prepared by me and the help of literature listed in the reference lists. I do not use other literature to write my assignment. I know that plagiarism is a serious problem I must aware of.


Hort Hor