Royal Government of Cambodias Efforts to Achieve

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In September 2000, all 189 member states of the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration, since the world leaders agreed to set a time-bound target, 2015, to achieve eight goals for combating extreme poverty, hunger, diseases, illiteracy, environment degradation and discrimination against women. The eight goals are: (1) End poverty and hunger, (2) Universal education, (3) Gender equality, (4) Child health, (5) Maternal health, (6) Combat HIV/AIDS, (7) Environmental sustainability, and (8) Global partnership. These goals are now best known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Following this United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, Cambodia developed its own set of MDGs called Cambodia Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs), focusing on poverty alleviation and human development. The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) is firmly committed to speed up its national progress in order to meet the global goals and targets. After January 7, 1979, Cambodia initiated a steady process of development that has produced significant progress over the years. To make the achievement of the MDGs a reality for all Cambodians, the RGC has been strongly committed to accelerate more efforts, ensure greater leadership for results at all levels of society, promote trusted partnership in development, enhance external development resources mobilization, and ensure effectiveness of the use of development resources since The General Election 1993. All development stakeholders in Cambodia, including representatives of government, civil society organisations, the private sector, and the external development partners (EDPs) have been encouraged to work together with the RGC that has been acting as a leader, coordinator and facilitator so far toward its own MDGs, CMDGs. Cambodia has nine Millennium Development Goals: (1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, (2) Achieve universal primary education, (3) Promote gender equality and empower women, (4) Reduce child mortality, (5) Improve maternal health, (6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, (7) Ensure environmental sustainability, (8) Forge a global partnership for development, and (9) De-mining, explosive remnants of war, and victim assistance [1] . Since Cambodia has been a post-war country, effort in cleaning land areas affected by mines and explosive remnant of war has been a long-term development agenda of the RGC. In this regard, the RGC has adopted the "De-mining" as its own Millennium Development Goal, CMDG-9 in addition to the eight original global goals.

As this paper focuses on MDG-2 and CMDG-2, three relevant aspects need to be closely examined: major current policies and programmes contributing to CMDG-2, key challenges for meeting CMDG-2 targets, framework for meeting the key challenges and reaching CMDG-2 targets, which will be discussed in detail in the next sections.

Development Context in Cambodia

The broad objective of this chapter is to briefly discuss the last-four-decade development situations in Cambodia occurring in such an environment that this country had undergone its very distinct historical period of re-building and developing a society from the beginning of 1979 when the country rose again from nearly four years of almost total destruction of social and economic institutions and decimation of manpower.

Given this unique historical background of making efforts to re-build and develop such a post-conflict society, it is important to look at the development context in Cambodia in three distinct periods. The first was from 1979 when it emerged from almost four years of genocidal regime. Everything had to start from scratch, from below ground zero. The second was from 1993 to 1997, when in mid-1997, the country was suddenly troubled by two unrelated crisis, namely externally the East Asia economic crisis and internally the sudden political divisions and disruptions, both occurring almost simultaneously. The third has started from 1998, with the formation of the second RGC, until now, a period of peace, stability and uninterrupted growth and progress. Since 1998, Cambodia's picture has been remarkably changing. It is now essential to reveal the situations of socio-economic development process in Cambodia by way of presenting a broad overview of major achievements and major aspects of shortfalls and future challenges.

Major achievements and developments since 1998 include the following. The improvement of political stability, security, and peace by the government based on a firm foundation of the liberal multi-party democracy. The respectful for human rights and dignity has been strengthened. The government also enhanced the good governance through state reform and judicial reforms and armed forces reforms. While the government is maintaining low inflation and a stable exchange rate, macroeconomic stability and double digit economic growth has been ensured. Moreover, improving agricultural productivity, constructing a rural economic base, and growing the industrial sector are what the government has been strengthened in order to make national economy become more competitive. Besides, the services sector has also expanded speedily by encouraging the private sector, so that both economic and financial sectors will be more developed. The irrigation, energy and telecommunication infrastructure has improved significantly. In addition, concentrating on improvement of the education and health sectors are the target of strengthening institutional and human resource capacity by the government. Last but not least, the government has boosted partnership with all stakeholders, particularly, private sector, and official development partners.

Shortfalls and future challenges include the following major aspects. These significant progresses still remain as challenges and have not fully respond to the real demand of the people. The law enforcement is still need to improve as well as the judiciary. Furthermore, global economic imbalance and financial crisis has slowdown global economic as well as Cambodia since it increases in oil price and food price, also depreciation of US dollar. Moreover, although poverty rate has significantly reduced through high economic growth, the rural poverty rate remains high. Besides, government also needs to ensure traffic safety and good conservation of the road network across the country. Further development of aviation infrastructure, including improvement of airports in the whole country and flight safety, still continues to be a significance task to develop the tourism. Electricity in rural areas is still limited, and its tariff remains high compared to neighbouring countries, and is a big difficulty in strengthening the competitiveness. Additionally, a social problem which harms welfare of the Cambodia youth is the production and trafficking of illegal drugs. Promoting health care services and clean water in rural areas needs to be fastening in order to meet the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals. Moreover, the major factors that handicap women from contributing to socio-economic development are the human trafficking, and lack of education.

Current Status of Achieving CMDG-2

This chapter will reflect the current situation of Cambodia's efforts in achieving the Cambodia Millennium Development Goal 2 (CMDG-2) by presenting the progress made so far in making sure that all Cambodian children are able to complete a full course of primary schooling and the challenges in pulling off the targets set under this goal.

As all the nine goals of the CMDGs had been structured in such a way that each goal contains overall targets and specific targets, it is important to learn about the details of the CMDG-2. The CMDG-2 contains two overall targets, overall target 1 is to ensure all children complete primary schooling by 2010 and nine-year basic schooling by 2015, and the overall target 2 is to eliminate gender disparity in nine-year basic education by 2010. [2] 

First of all, the overall target 1 is to ensure all children complete primary schooling by 2010 and nine-year basic schooling by 2015. The RGC have made remarkable steps over the past nine years in improving access to education. This primary education progress is attributed to a large expansion of school infrastructure, the training and deployment of teachers, focussing on remote areas, ensuring entry of 6 years old in primary school and the reduction in parental cost barriers. Besides, the lower secondary school is also low, and it is primarily because of two reasons, the slow progress of flow rates in primary schools and the high level of drop out in lower secondary schools. Moreover, it will not be affected substantially until the internal efficiency in primary education is significantly improved. All in all, the main current challenges are to improve the primary flow rates as well as access and transition rates to lower secondary school, which are related to the education quality issue. Consequently, there must be the focus over the next six year since the recent rates of lower secondary school progress is about 53 per cent [3] .

Second, the overall target 2 is to eliminate gender disparity in nine-year basic education by 2010. Equality and non-discrimination are important aspects of the right to education. Gender inequalities in primary and lower secondary education have been eliminated. They have been reversed possibly as a result of a policy of providing scholarship to poor girls in grades 7 to 9 in the case of lower secondary school. This notable result was also accomplished by a systematic focus on training and employing female teachers which make the percentage of female teachers at primary level has reached 46 per cent of the total in 2009 and 2010 [4] . In conclusion, the main challenge of the overall target 2 is to make the equality between boys and girls, so that the number of students will be increased.

There are some key elements that have contributed to deal with the enormous remaining challenges in the education sector. Firstly, the use of a Sector Wide Approach has provided a mechanism for supporting development cooperation assistance with the needs of the education sector. Second, many education programs was effective in reducing repetition and drop-out rates, increasing promotion rate and school attendance in Grade, as well as improving the quality of teaching and classroom environment. Lastly, the expansion of lower secondary schools and a multi-grade teaching program is the way to secure full coverage in all communes and the reduction of incomplete primary schools.

It can be generally concluded that ensuring equitable access to education for all and strengthening the quality of education have been and remain high priorities that are to be realised by the Royal Government Cambodia.

IV. Key challenges for meeting cmdg-2 targets and major current strategies to address the key challenges and reach cmdg-2 targets

This chapter will discuss key challenges faced by the RGC and its Development Partners in meeting CMDG-2 targets and the RGC's policy framework to address the key challenges and to reach CMDG-2 targets.

4.1 Key Challenges:

Although significant progress, as reflected in the previous section, has been made, it is logically argued that the following two major aspects in the education sector constitute critical challenges for meeting CMDG-2 targets:

First, there is a need to ensure equitable access to education services by building schools as close as possible to residences, reducing the number of incomplete primary schools, increasing operational budgets to schools, increasing the supply of teachers, providing houses to teachers and building dormitories for students in disadvantaged areas, especially girls. Access shall also be expanded for children in early childhood education, as well as those with disabilities and those from minority groups. Ensuring community or private engagement in this process is a key for long-term success.

Second, it is critically important to improve the quality and efficiency of education services by increasing the provision of school instructional materials, libraries and laboratories, continuing to further develop the curriculum, increasing learning hours and providing scholarships (cash and food) to poor students, enhancing teaching and management capacities, improving schools' environment (supply of clean water and latrines), expanding vocational orientation, increasing inspection of administration, finance and educational quality assurance. It is also essential to improve training systems for teachers and management staff and to link them with career paths and promotion with the aim of enhancing their motivation.

4.2 Priority Strategies:

To ensure equitable access to education services, the following strategic actions need to be put in place. First, to expand access to early childhood education programs for 3 to under 6 year olds aimed on those communes with low net admission rates and high repetition rates in primary schools. Second, to ensure entry of all 6 year olds into primary school including marginalized groups such as children with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and so on. Third, to reduce parental cost barriers of all aspects such as informal payments and increase the number of scholarships for students from poor families, especially girls to ensure their access to primary and secondary schools. Fourth, to provide technical and vocational education, life-skill education and vocational orientation in general schools. Fifth, promote partnerships between the public and private sectors and development partners to increase support for the provision of local life skills and vocational training and basic/required professional skills responsive to the needs of the social and labour market. Sixth, to ensure the rationalization of the numbers of educational staff in remote areas. Seventh, to continue the provision of new schools and community learning centers or additional facilities to incomplete primary schools. Eighth, to enhance parent or community involvement in all stages of schooling, especially by commune councils.

To improve the quality and efficiency of education services, the following prioritized actions need to carry out. First, to reduce repetition and drop-out rates at all grades. Second, to improve the quality of teaching, learning and research at all levels nationwide. Third, to implement the new curriculum policy, including the primary and lower secondary education which focus on the number of teaching hours. Fourth, to improve teacher's training and increase service remuneration and incentives linked to teacher performance and standards. Fifth, to increase public financial accountability and educational institutions' responsibility regarding operational budgets and decisions on programs. Sixth, to increase transparency and improve performance monitoring and accountability of teachers, schools and higher education institutions. Seventh, to improve the quality and efficiency of technical and vocational education, life skill education and vocational orientation. Eighth, to improve the quality and efficiency of physical education and sport programs and school health. Last but not least, to increase the quality and efficiency of youth development programs leading to socio-economic development.

V. Conclusion

It can be logically concluded that in order to successfully reach the CMDG-2 targets, the RGC's should ensure that all Cambodian children and youth have equal opportunity for access to both formal and informal basic education, without discrimination. Equally important, the implementation of those strategies need to be followed to create a culture of freedom, peace, respect for human rights, democracy and justice as well as a culture of avoiding violence, preventing drug use, child and women trafficking and shunning social discrimination. More attention shall be paid to improve the quality of education by encouraging teachers as well as outstanding students, upgrading teaching methodologies, improving program, classroom conditions and learning materials, and creating libraries and laboratories. To ensure equitable opportunity, the government should establish dormitories for students, especially female students, increase scholarship for poor students, and build schools for all levels in the city as well as rural and remote areas. As well, training of qualified teachers in adequate numbers need to carried out in an effective manner and teacher deployment policy shall be implemented efficiently. The partnership between government and private sector and development partner communities like external development partners and civil society organizations need to be strengthened in order to improve the quality of education sector by putting more emphasis on a participatory approach in the development of any potential strategies that will effectively response to labor market demands and to the country's development needs. The government also needs to grow informal education through literacy and vocational programs, and create learning centers of equity programs.

In a broader socio-economic development context, it can be argued that to meet all CMDGs targets in general and CMDG-2 targets in particular would be constrained by the uncertainties in the global financial markets and the timing of economic recovery in advanced economies, the increased incidences of natural disaster caused by global climate change, and epidemic, which has serious implications for the country's efforts in lifting up the wellbeing of all Cambodians. Therefore, to respond to on-going and emerging challenges caused by changes in external environment and to bring about effective outcomes will require periodic adjustments of allocations of both domestic and external development resources that are globally limited in order to ensure that these resources are better aligned to national development priorities.