Education Is The Key To Alleviate Poverty Education Essay

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Education is the key to alleviate poverty for all countries. The education of girls is related to additional social benefits which are particularly linked to women's roles as mothers and their key role in family care which includes improving family health, nutrition and hygiene. Therefore, increasing girls' participation in education would be a vital step to development in Cambodia. These social benefits could accumulate from formal and non-formal education. However, formal education might be better places to educate people because formal education can provide a standard curriculum and offer a large scale of varieties such as certificate for finding job, formal curriculum and hidden curriculum.

Gorman, Dorina, and Kheng (1999) found that there were two fundamental areas for gender gap in education-first to costs (both direct costs and opportunity costs), and second to social attitudes towards gender roles. Particularly in the poor and rural family, the survival of the family members comes from the distribution of household labour. Therefore, the main reason for many families to withdraw both boys and girls from school is economic costs. What's more, stereotypical views of gender roles which includes notions of men as breadwinners and women working in the family home as housewives mean that girls' education is often not considered as important as boys in traditional societies.

What is remarkable in the Cambodian school enrolment patterns is that the gender gap has become wider and wider as students move to higher levels of formal education. The higher the level of study, the wider gender gap was found (Hayden & Martin, 2011). Cambodia has made noticeable progress in ending gender inequalities in school participation at primary and lower-secondary levels (MoEYS as cited in Hayden & Martin). For instance, the proportion of the age group attending primary schooling was 93.2% for boys and 93.3% for girls ,and the proportion of lower-secondary schooling for the age group participating was 33.7% for boys and 35.9% for girls in 2007-08. However, beyond lower-secondary school, the gender gap becomes large with only 41% of females enrolling for upper-secondary schooling and boys outnumbering girls in higher education by a factor of 3 to 1 (World Bank as cited in Hayden & Martin, 2011).

Problem Statement

Most higher education institutions are located in Phnom Penh, which strengthens the distance issue for students from rural areas and increases the costs, as accommodation has to be found. Changing from one place to another place to study is not easy. It is acceptable for men to stay and live in the pagoda, but it is not possible for women. If rural girls do not have relatives in Phnom Penh, this is a major problem for the poor and middle income families. Faced with a need for money many students work to support themselves in their studies. However students who work more than 12.5 hours per week were likely to drop out from their studies (Krause as cited in Chan, 2011). With the pressure of learning and earning money at the same time, students experience challenges in being able to concentrate on their studies which can lead to dropout (Krause as cited in Chan, 2011, p.11).

Research questions

What are some of the challenges to continuing their undergraduate study identified by first year female undergraduate students at university X?

What are some of the strategies used by first year female students at university X to remain studying at university?

Significance of study

This small research project is aimed to help people in communities by encouraging the people in community to realize that all of them have equal rights to access school or even tertiary education. Furthermore, it also helps to promote gender equality in the society especially people in rural area to provide their both sex of children to have enough chance to access school rather than have been exploited their labour to work during their cognitive growth and study time. Above all, this small research proposal also addresses the impact of gender inequality in higher education towards society and finds a better solution in order to make a balance between both sexes to participate in higher learning.

The discovering of gender bias in undergraduate enrolments also provides information to all stakeholders in the planning and development of postgraduate programmes in Cambodian universities. For instance, understanding the gender inequality in postgraduate enrolments can result in developing programmes designed to increase the number of female students; these may consist of establishing mentoring programmes, creation of 'safe spaces for female students' and female-only scholarships (Walker, 2012, p. 2). Furthermore, the underrepresentation of females in postgraduate studies presents a challenge to planners and policy makers with the imbalance of one gender or type of socioeconomic background amongst university staff, for example there is danger that areas of teaching and research inquiry and focus will be restricted due to an absence of alternative views and ways of seeing the world (Walker, 2012,p.3). Ayres (as cited in Walker, 2012, p.3) stated "For an education system that is attempting to 'modernise' the country the absence of any group of voices impoverishes the country and possibly reinforces traditional ways of 'seeing' and 'doing' ".

Chapter Two

Literature Review

This chapter discusses the literature which was reviewed for this proposed study that discussed gender constraints in education and some problems that were reported by local and international researchers. Moreover, this chapter is divided into two parts, international literature review and local literature review.

The literature cited in this review was found by using the websites Google Scholar, James Cook University (JCU) online library and Google Search. One report was also found that had been published by the Cambodia Development Research Institute (CDRI) in 1999.

Key words used to find the articles include: gender inequality in education, gender constraint in education, gender bias in education, and challenges of female undergraduate students.

International Literature Review

In this research proposal, I have identified several themes that have been emerged in my international literature review and are described below

Gender Equality and Development

A World Development Report (2012) focusing on gender and development stated that gender equality was the main point to develop human being. Gender equality enlarged the productivity of the current generation and improved development outcomes for the next offspring. One of the main mechanisms of development was to improve the education that moves hand in hand with gender equality. Glewwe and Kremer (2006) as cited in Junxia et al. (2012) agreed that most economists and international development agencies believed that girls who received education can improve not only their own vocational opportunities, living conditions, and social status, but also help the economic growth and social development of the entire nation. The World Bank (2011) as cited in Junxia et al. (2012) reported that almost half of the world's elementary school students where girls were not in school lived in Sub-Saharan Africa. Three to four girls dropped out for every two boys in Egypt, Iraq, Liberia, and Morocco (UNESCO, cited in Junxia et al. 2012).

A number of studies have had and have continued to investigate gender inequality in education in China. Some researchers described that there was still significant bias in access to education between males and females (Davis et al., 2007; Hannum et al., 2008a; Cao and Lei, 2008; Hong, as cited in Junxia et al. 2012). Other studies have found that gender inequality in education in China has been improving (Liu, 2004; Wang, 2010; Wu and Zhang, as cited in Junxia et al. 2012). To sum up, there still remains gender discrimination in education in China and it is still severe in some place, according to some supply factors (increasing costs of education, quality of provision, tertiary sector) and demand factors (rural reforms, socio-cultural factors).

Constraints on females accessing education in China

Increasing costs for education

Increasing costs for education can contribute to gender constraints in accessing or continuing education especially in poor, more traditional cultures. A significant economic barrier to females' education in developing countries can be the charging of fees and other costs for education, especially during periods of high inflation, for example in the mid to late 1980s. Other miscellaneous costs such as registration fees, graduation and examination fees, levies for burglary prevention and school repairs can add up to an important sum that makes attending school prohibitive for females although in theory compulsory education is free of charge (Colclough & Lewin, 1993; UNICEF, cited in Baden & Green, 1994).

Females in China might confront overt discrimination when applying for entrance to higher education. In the mid-1980s, the selection steps of some well-renowned high schools and universities allowed male applicants entrance on lower grades than their female counterparts. Hooper (1984) said "this bias against women is justified by educationalists on the basis that girls tend to surpass boys in high school entrance examination but boys are likely to catch up and even surpass girls during their early teens" (p.324).

Rural reforms

Rural reforms can also impact on the likelihood of a girl enrolling or continuing her study. Educational opportunities can be linked to an individual family's economic situation. The opportunity costs of girls' education in China might be increasing due to a rapidly changing economic climate, especially within rural areas where the decollectivisation of agriculture has occurred (UNESCO as cited in Baden & Green, 1994).

As part of its agricultural policy, the party/state has encouraged family based rural enterprises, and an open market for the trade of the products produced by peasant families under the .individual and family responsibility system.. A courtyard economy has flourished in the countryside, with rural women particularly engaged in three different projects: handicrafts, raising small livestock, and cultivation of fruits and vegetables...While engaged in such production mothers need their daughters to look after younger children, and help with household chores. Child labour has become an issue once again in rural China. This tendency has particularly affected the education of girls. (Rai, 1993, pp.4-5).

Last but not least, socio-cultural practices have accounted for curbing female education in China. A Chinese proverb says "to educate the girls is to water another man's garden" (Rai, 1993, p.6). Sons are more likely support their parents in old age than daughters, so improving the earning income of sons through education makes a good economic sense (Bauer, 1992, p. 349). Other factors which can contribute to discourage girl's from pursing education includes early marriage of girls. Getting of incentive economic can act as a motivation for girls' early marriage and therefore withdraw girls from schooling:

Mercenary marriage is now widely practiced in rural areas despite repeated banning, and the price of betrothal gifts has gone up incessantly. To raise funds for their sons' marriage, many parents are forced to have their daughters engaged at an early age so that betrothal gifts can be taken in early. (Summer, cited in Rai, 1993, p. 6).

Gender bias in subject study

Besides the factors which were mentioned above, as I have read higher education policy (2009), I found another gender bias by subject areas and social position for women after they graduate from their study. The OECD (2007) reported that, globally men

outnumber women in Engineering, Manufacturing, and Construction, and Mathematic and, Computer Science. The choice of gender fields is significant because the disciplines of higher education lead students into various types of jobs, and social hierarchies which can contribute more to gender bias in civil society. Moreover, in the Leadership subject area is even more over represented by men because there are few women who can hold the position as a leader after they graduate and cultural habit of men is the breadwinner and girl as housewife. Singh as cited in HEP (2009) reported that in 23 of the 35 countries in the Commonwealth from Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) gets gender disparity data, all universities are headed by men and only 1 in 10 Vice Chancellors or Presidents of Commonwealth universities has been a woman.

If we looked at gender constraints in China, it was likely to focus on both supply side and demand side, but if we scrutinized higher education policy (2009) in Ghana and Tanzania, it was much concerned on subject areas and social position that demotivate women to earn their potential from higher education institutions.

National Literature Reviewed

In the following section I discuss the Cambodia literature reviewed in the process of writing my proposal.

Household factors

According to a MOEYS (1998b) survey, housework and minding siblings were the main reasons for girls' dropping out and non-enrolment in school, especially from 12 to 15 years old. The largest reason for both boys and girls was "work" (Socio-Economic Survey of Cambodia, 1997), but significantly more for girls (MOP, 1997b). In rural areas, the labour of all family members is required for farm work and is more common than in urban areas, so a higher proportion of rural girls under 15 are in the labour force than boys (MOEYS 1998b; MOP 1997b).

Girls, especially the eldest daughter, are expected to take over their mother's child-care role when her mother is employed to work. This can have two consequences in schooling: either the eldest daughter drops out to take over her mother's household obligations, or her achievement at school is detrimentally affected as she attempts to juggle the two. Help with generating income was a more significant reason for absenteeism among girls than boys, though rates of absenteeism were not available (Gorman, 1999). Education depends very much on the parents' expectations of their child's future role and, how education is understood to contribute to this role. The expectations in rural Cambodia seem very much to be shaped by traditional perceptions of gender role ideals for male as breadwinner and female as housewife and mother (Gorman, 1999).

The cost of study

Cost was the essential reason for not sending children to school or for taking them out of school (MOEYS, 1998b; Fiske, 1995). The cost surrounding education can be direct or indirect, and can include school fees, uniform, textbooks and stationery, transport and tutoring. The labour contribution of each family member can be crucial for survival when resources are scarce. Most parents believe that girls should do more housework than boys, and she helps her mother manage the household (MOEYS, 1998b). Even if girls are not directly contributing to household productive labour, they are often freeing up their mother's labour time.

Specific concerns for girl's safety

Girls in rural areas are more likely to have less education due to less family income. According to UNESCO (1998; 1997b) the increasing cost of education in the community exacerbates inequalities in access. The most noticeable finding in rural areas was that girls drop out of school in large numbers at puberty. Indications are that this partly reflects parental attempts to control girls' sexuality, in a society where the virginity of girls is deemed essential for marriage. Security of school-going daughters was a major concern to parents in the MOEYS (1998a; 1998b) survey, even when distance was not, perhaps relating to concerns about sexuality but also to the growing incidence of the abduction of girls for prostitution.

The absence of latrines and washing facilities in schools is particularly troublesome for girls, especially after puberty when menstruation requires washing facilities. MOEYS statistics from 1997/98 reported that about 72% of schools do not have toilet facilities. A large majority for both urban and rural respondents in the MOEYS survey reported most dissatisfaction with school latrines, and this may be one factor causing the drop in girls' enrolment after the age of 13.

Distance to school remains a constraint on access to school related to the opportunity costs for girls, whose work burden is larger, and to parents' fears for the security of their daughters. Parents in rural areas are more reluctant to let younger girls go to school than boys when distance is an issue.

Role models

Having female teachers and women in positions of responsibility is vital to provide girls with role models which can positively affect their performance in school and influence aspirations for the future (Friske, 1995). If there are no role models, it is hard to break the perpetuating cycle of women concentrated in particular professions and positions. Employing female teacher and female principals in Cambodian primary, secondary and high schools will provide examples to young girls of what pursuit of study might result in and encourage girls to aspire to life beyond the farm or the village.

Chapter Three


Data Collection Method

Focus Group

Anderson and Arsenault (1998) defined a focus group as "carefully planned and moderated informal discussion were one person's ideas bounce off another's creating a chain reaction of informative dialogue. Its purpose is to address a specific topic, in depth, in a comfortable environment to elicit a wide range of opinion, attitudes, feelings or perceptions from a group of individuals who share some common experience relative to the dimension under study" (p.261).

Another definition of a focus group is a qualitative data approach in which one or two researchers work with participants to discuss a given research topic area. Tape recording and sometimes videotaping are used to support research. One research leads the discussion by asking participants to respond to open-ended questions and another takes a role as a note-taker (Mack, Woodsong, Macqueen, Guest & Namey, 2005).

In focus group, I will select 20 volunteer female students who are currently in year one to join group discussion. The discussion will occur five times with different groups. Each group has four members and thirty minutes for discussion. I will ask my friend to help me as a note-taker while I am doing as a facilitator for group discussion. I also ask their permission to audio-record their voices. After finalizing the interviews, I will use transcribe the conversations, code it and group it into emerging themes and patterns.


Using focus group discussions to collect data can provide us with concrete strengths. First, the participants feel free to discuss their problems in school with other students because they come from the same cohort with the same school and have a great chance to share their troubles with their members. Secondly, participants have more chance to express their attitude, opinion than asking them to complete questionnaire because questionnaire can restrict their idea. It means that they can provide diversity of perspectives and rich qualitative perspectives (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998). Last but not least, focus groups can yield a large amount of information over a relatively short period of time (Mack, Woodsong, Macqueen, Guest, & Namey, 2005). Through this sampling method, reliable and valid data will be collected to study.


By using focus group to collect data also provide several limitations. A group interview might make some participants feel uncomfortable about disclosing sensitive personal experiences and also pose administrative challenges such as one has to arrange a convenient time and place for all participants (Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010). For example, most of the students are full-time class and most of them come from different provinces, so they have free time only lunch time to make discussion because those who live in province might go to their homeland on Weekend days. Furthermore, some female students take responsibly as cook in their rent-house, so they might reluctant to join due to time constraint and time limitation. As far as I concern that most female are cook, so they might give superficial information due to lunch time. Finally, it might be difficult to gather them to make discussion due to different time available. For instance, if one or two students are free to make discussion, the other might be busy or visit their homeland.

Sampling methods

In this part, I will describe the procedure for choosing the participants to join my research project and their involvement in the study. Moreover, I will discuss the limitations and strengths of my approaches as well as ethical concerns which are related to my research plan.

In conducting the focus group, I have several main steps for inviting females in year one to participate and be involved in my research. First of all, I am going to ask the School Rector for permission using a research letter and after that I will show that permission letter to teachers who teach year one students. I will then discuss the purpose of doing my research to the teachers who teach year one students in order to allow me to give my presentation to their students. The presentation might take from 10 minutes to 15 minutes in the whole class.

During the presentation I will explain the purpose of doing this research to the students and also deliver document to them, which contains my phone number, email address, and also several questions to fill in if they are interested to be my participants. If they are interested, they just write down their phone number and their email address. Then, I will wait for them outside near entrance door, so when they have a break, I can get my completed paper back. After that I will allocate to suitable time to arrange the discussion at a convenient place such as the park in front of University, the building under the library and canteen.


There are two major strengths of using this procedure to recruit participants. First, the permission letter from Rector addresses the ethical concern for doing formal research and help other teachers who teach in year one to be a part of involvement to link to their students. By giving a presentation from 10 minutes to 15 minutes and delivering a piece of paper which consist of some blanks for them to fill in, participants feel free to complete the blanks. If they are interested to be participants in this research, they can write the words "Yes I am available". If they are not interested in this research, they can write the words "Sorry I am busy or leave it blank". There is no force or any gifts for participants to be involved at all. They are voluntary participants.


There are at least two possible problems which may affect participants being involved in this study. First, gender is the issues of recruiting female participations. All of the participants being sought are females in year one, but the facilitator and researcher are men. Secondly, culture is another issue for recruiting females to participate in the research because most women in Cambodia are unlikely to cooperate with strangers especially men. Furthermore, the motivation of participants' involvement in research is less active due to their financial and time constraint.

Ethical issues

Kumar as cited in Chan (2011) stated that the researcher needed to gain informed consent from the participants involved in order to make their interests known and seek the cooperation of those in the study. Bogdan and Biklen as cited in Chan (2011) highlighted that some researchers gave incentives to participants for their taking part and their time devoting in the study. If permission was well negotiated, doing research openly gave the advantages of release from duties to being a regular participant; therefore, the freedom to come and go as you wish.

In this research, the researcher will explain the purpose of doing the research to the participants. Moreover, the researcher will ensure that all participants have the rights to remain anonymous. It means that the name of participants will not divulge but using pseudonyms. There is no force or any incentive gifts for the participants at all; all participants are volunteers to take part in this research.