Household costs to Basic Education in Cambodia

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In every country, having access to basic education is highly considered the responsibility of their government, all child have equal right to receive education. It is also expected that the government have to responsible to equip the school facilities. Some families wish to receive superior quality, and to fulfill these needs, the private school have received more students where they can spend their extra hours beside their normal lesson at public school. (Mark & Seng, 2005, p.1)

From the point of view regarding all children should receive a basic education with suitable quantity and quality, the schooling in public systems should be free of charge. The country with potential economic is capable to handle these notions. However advocacy can sometimes become simplistic. The countries with low income are lack of required resources to receive universal education even with lowest quality. On the other hand, it's considered to be under-valued by the beneficiaries when schooling were received free of charge, at least the parent should be asked to contribute the costs of schooling. While some families have lower income and can't support the cost and other from middle and high incomes families will be able to afford such expenses. This financial contribution may not encourage parents to value education but it would reduce the expenditure of government resources and could allow more and better services to support low income families. (Mark & Seng, 2005, p.1)

Under the discussion concerns the full cost of education, economists commonly distinguish between the direct costs and indirect costs of schooling. (Mark & Seng, 2005,p.1)

This research will focus on the following questions:

What kind of costs exists for household in education in Cambodia?

In what way do the costs of education influence child's learning?

Who is currently most disadvantaged by the current system of household financing in Cambodia?

Household costs in Cambodian education

Household costs consists direct and indirect cost. Direct cost of household are expenditures by parents on their child's schooling such as expenditure on uniforms, books, transport and other related items. (Mark & Seng, 2005 p.1). Indirect costs refer to economic value of opportunities forgone as a result of schooling. Opportunities forgone can be a child's labor in household production. (Mark & Seng, 2005, pp.1-2).

Direct cost

Firstly the registration fee, before the PAP was existent, parents are requested to pay upon the enrollment of their child for schooling at Grade 1 and even more payment at lower secondary school. Since PAP is established, this kind of expenses with other obligatory contributions is no more charged. The evidence from the 2004 survey found a few contributions by parents was continued at primary and lower secondary schools from 200 to 500 riels and with these figures the government policy can handle it with the PAP. (Mark & Seng, 2005, pp. 34-35)

Secondly is the uniform and equipment. Wearing uniform is an obligatory for pupils at primary schools rather than at secondary schools. It is less strict in rural and remote areas than in urban areas and the number of using the uniform is different in every year. In addition, wearing shoes, having sports kits, school bag are also school's obligation and mostly pupils from poor family can't handle all of these costs and with lack of financial they use plastic bag instead of school bag which cost nothing. (Mark & Seng, 2005, pp.36-37)

Third cost is the learning material. Pupils at both primary and lower secondary school are allowed to borrow textbooks with free of charge and thus households did not need to spent anything on this investment. However pupils are also expected to buy covers for their textbooks at a cost of 100 to 200 riels. A shortage of textbooks at lower secondary schools, pupils have to share the cost sharing of the cover. Households are also required to buy various learning materials for instance, exercise books and other stationery. (Mark & Seng, 2005, pp. 38-39)

Fourth cost is the supplementary tutoring. Most pupils spent extra hour for the tutoring to receive better quality of education. Private tutoring is divided in two categories. Firth category, teachers give lesson for their own pupils and often in the same classroom and second category, teachers give to those who are not responsible by them. Pupils may find it's difficult to choose whether they join or not. Moreover, households had the informal analyzing the costs, they realized that it's worth to invest in supplementing tutoring and if the child have to repeat a grade, households will spend more than they spend on tutoring. (Mark & Seng, 2005, pp. 40-41)

Fifth cost is the cost on tests and examinations. This refers to the expenses at lower secondary examination and on photograph. In each academic year, most schools hold monthly tests, semester examinations, three monthly tests and an end-of-semester examination. Some teachers allow students to use their own paper but the other not, students have to pay about 200 riels per page. As a result, after the introduction of the PAP, teachers are not allowed to do so but still it keeps on going in some provinces. (Mark & Seng, 2005, p.42)

Sixth cost is the transport. Bicycle is the most popular use, and either walk or sending by parents to school for pupils from Grade 3. At upper secondary schools, students can use their motorbike to school. There is also the maintenance cost to repair the bicycles and normally boys can manage it than the girls do. This sort of cost is depending to the region. In the rural areas, pupils use motor-taxi or minibuses for their own means to school. (Mark & Seng, 2005, pp. 43-44)

Seventh cost is referred to pocket money such as spending on breakfast. The students who are from the far place will also spend for lunch. The expenses of the poor and rich family are different. The rich family will hand the money to their child on other activities not related to education for instance, entertainment. (Mark & Seng, 2005, p. 45)

Cost on other expenses is considered the last cost the students spend. These are included gift to teachers, cash collections during festivals, ceremonies of various kinds. The schools have connection to pagoda, may also raise funds for religious ceremonies. The parents may also be asked to contribute labour and materials to construction and maintenance of families. (Mark & Seng, 2005, p. 46 )

Indirect cost

Indirect cost or opportunity cost refers to the hours pupils spent at school will influence to the income to family. Students can work someplace to earn the income supporting their family. In provincial town, boys work on a construction site where the girl might be hired to transplant and harvest rice, assist mother in bringing up sibling and fetching water. The child labour was much more common in rural than the urban ones, and was greatest in mountain plateau zone. (Mark & Seng, 2005, pp. 53-59)

The opportunity cost will be hired when child getting older. The child at rural areas are usually spend more than the urban one. Males and females started almost the same proportions, but gradually many females dropped out. (Mark & Seng, 2005, p. 55)

The costs of education influence child's learning

The direct cost and indirect cost had influenced to child's education. The male and female pupils started to work at their younger age without considering their enrollment at school and for whose enroll at school work lower hours than pupils who not enroll. The number of their sibling increased, will influence to their workload by working more hours to get higher income. (Han & Siichi, 2006)

Household income plays important role to increase huge number of enrolment and reduce the hours of their labor. However there was the gap between the policy and the implementation when it's refer to the right of nine years to access basic education. (Han & Siichi, 2006)

In addition, the school facilities are also problematic. In a few schools, the government had provided some buildings and facilities. Only five of the 77 schools had buildings which had been constructed during the 1990s and none had been constructed during 1997. Four of five schools are constructed in Phnom Penh through government financial. (Mark, 1999, p.43)

The most disadvantage by the current system of household financing in Cambodia

The support of government funds with PAP in primary and lower secondary school, the gap between household and government financing has been reduced but household still spend more on total costs to education than the government. The heavy burden of direct education costs on households is partly a reflection of the government's incapability to amass resources through the tax system despite recent improvement. The heavy education burden that Cambodian households bear calls for further efforts to reduce costs barriers, for poor families in particular. Some families are willing to share the costs of basic schooling and the education system benefits when they do so. Cambodia ("Quality Basic Education For all, " 2005)

The education system of Cambodia is nine years, six years at primary school and followed by three years at lower secondary school and three years at upper secondary school. In addition, some students attended pre-schools and other continued to university. Since 1996 to 2004, the enrollment rate had increased interestingly. It increased at primary school by 36.5 per cent and lower secondary school enrolled doubled. The formulation of policy on household financing by the government was the significant instruments to receive such gains. (Mark & Seng, 2005, p. 19 )


It is important to know the causes of child labor basically in order to tackle its problem at its root. Therefore to find out the hours the child work are continued to be strategic in policy formulation toward balancing child labor and their human capital formation. (Han & Seiichi, 2006)

Scholarship had a substantial effect on student enrollment and attendance at 6th and 7th grade. The impact was the same for boys and girls. (WORL BANK, 2010)

Parents sent their child to school because of the result of household's evaluation can convince them. The output from schooling will be beneficial in the future. However this decision will also depend on their beliefs, the benefit will be in returns in the future as well as their financial support to schooling. There are also several reasons why a household may decide not to send their child to school because the true benefits of schooling is not foreseen by the family. The benefit of going to school is the long-term and will flow mainly to the child, rather than the parent. On the other hand the costs have to be supported by the parent and in the short run. (Perter, 2002)