Student Drop out rate Outskirts of Phnom Penh

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The phenomenon of high drop-out rates in developing countries is well-documented. Data from many countries show that the rate is especially high in the early years of primary school. Cambodia is no exception (Tarumi & Bredenberg, 2009). Over the past two decades the MoEYS has implemented many different system reforms aimed at increasing enrolment rate and reducing repetition and drop-out rates of students in the whole country. However, the dropout rate is still high in Cambodia schools. The Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Cambodia have conducted some research about factors causing student dropping out of school (Tarumi & Bredenberg, 2009).

In spite of the education sector reform of Cambodia on track, the country continues confronting serious issues. The process of primary education is still in difficulties to find solution and decrease the number of factors of dropout of students. The high dropout rate continued to exist at level of primary school with very difficult problems for secondary education (MoEYS & UNICEF, 2005).

Education statistic and indicator of Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) in academic year 2008-2009 indicated that 30,281 classes were provided for 605,707 students in lower secondary school. In 2007-2008, MoEYS EMIS (Education Monitoring Information System) statistics demonstrate high student dropout rates for both sexes across the whole country and across all three levels of school primary school, grade 1 to 6, lower secondary school, grade7 to 9, and high school, grade 10 to 12. Dropout rates in lower secondary school are the highest among the three levels of school. Nationwide, 9.2 per cent of children dropped out in primary school, 21.3 per cent of children dropped out in lower secondary school, and 15.4 per cent of children dropped out in high school. In Phnom Penh, dropout rates are generally lower than in other parts of Cambodia but the general trend is similar: 8.5 per cent of children drop out in primary school, 13.2 per cent in lower secondary school, and 4.5 per cent in high school MoEYS (2009). Dropping out of school which causes from many factors were founded and understood, but it is an issue for education in both developed countries and developing countries.

1.2 Problem Statement

Researches on student dropout by Velasco (2001), Badloe, Flagnagan, Hozumi, Imhof & So (2007), and NGO Education Partnership (2007) in Cambodia and Rumberger and Lim (2008) reveals many contributing factors of dropping out of students. The main factors of student dropout are identified as poverty, distant school, poor school management, unqualified teacher, insecurity in community, parent's expectation, gender, geographic, ethnicity, disabled, and not enough facilities in school, gambling, student personality, low motivation of teachers, extra informal fee from students, poorly trained teachers and earning income for family.

Cambodian education system has been expanded as priority to provide more opportunity to more pupils' enrollment since the beginning of French colonialism. A lot of NGOs and donors have supported finance and techniques for education system and Cambodian education has been reformed (Courtney, 2008).

The Child friendly school policy is applied in basic education throughout Cambodia to improve education system. The child friendly school framework is to help all types of children, particularly, children in vulnerable situation, train teachers to be skillful and qualified in their career, ensure that community people keep all children in school safe and healthy, enhance awareness in schools, communities, and families of their roles and responsibilities, and upgrade strong relationships between school and community for school improvement resource (MoEYS, 2007). But the problem of high rates of school dropouts still remains even though education system expanded, finance and techniques supported, and Child Friendly School program introduced.

The school drop out of student in lower secondary school is high level compared to primary and high school in Phnom Penh and whole country as well (MoEYS, 2009). Many researches have been conducted on dropout of student in Cambodia. This study focus will be examining the school related-factors on student dropping out of school.

1.3 Research Objectives

The study is to examine student's perceptions on why students drop out of school at lower secondary school in outskirt of Phnom Penh which contribute to more understanding the main influencing school factors of dropping out and this may help to increase understanding of the phenomenon.

1.4 Research Questions

This research aims specifically to understand student's perception about dropping out of school and the school factors-related of dropping out of school. The study aims to explore the following questions:

What reasons do students provide dropping out of school at lower secondary school in the outskirts of Phnom Penh?

What school related factors do students identify?

1.5 Significance of Research

Student out of school is an issue which the RGC/MoEYS and NGOs have made an effort to reduce and abolish in order to reach the Education For All (EFA) goals, and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The drop out issue still remains at an alarmingly higher level in lower secondary compared to primary and high school in Cambodia. The study will contribute to the research on dropout, increase understanding of the phenomenon.

1.6 Key Term Definition

In this research, school drop-outs refer to children has not completely enrolled in schools in the 12 month prior to the survey, given he/she used to enroll in school sometime before (Thanh & Long 2004).

1.7 Proposed Chapter

This study consists of 5 chapters. First, chapter1 consists of introduction which includes background, problem statement, and research objective, significance of the study, research question and key term definition. Second, chapter 2, the literature review consists of 5 literature reviews which were conducted in Cambodia and around the world, will be used to support the whole study. And third, chapter 3 is the research methodology consisting of the sampling and participants, data collection, data analysis, ethical consideration, limitation of the study. The forth, chapter 4 is finding and the last, chapter 5 is conclusion.



Dropping out of school is a global issue in the world and in developing countries, like Cambodia have been concerned. Many studies of dropout have examined factors contributing to dropout of student in order to achieve the Education For all (EFA) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This study will base on some related studies in Cambodia and oversea to provide theoretical framework in for conducting the study. Many studies indicated many factors of student dropping out of school, school factor, family factor, and individual factor.

According to Velasco (2001), why are girls not in school? Perceptions, realities, and contradictions in changing Cambodia stated six main factors cause girls out of school in six provinces, Kompong Cham, Siem Reap, Kompong Thom, Kratie, Banteay Meanchey, and Rattanakiri. The six factors push the girls leave school: poverty of girls' family, inadequate school materials, unqualified teachers, very far school from their village, no security in community and school, bad environment in school, and parents' expectation on education. Significantly, this research paper wants to explore the school factor; therefore, there are four school factors in the findings related to the study, inadequate school materials, unqualified teachers, distance school, and bad environment in school.

The study by VSO sharing skills and changing in Cambodia, Reaching the Unreached: Bridging the Social Divide in Cambodia Through Inclusive Education showed 8 factors which push children to stop school in basic education. These include informal fees from children, low salary of teacher; poor health and malnutrition for children, and poverty; overcrowded classroom, and inadequate facilities in school, poorly trained and unqualified teachers and low level of motivation among teachers. There are 6 school related-factors, informal fees from children, low salary of teacher, inadequate facilities in school, poorly trained and unqualified teachers and low level of motivation among teachers in the findings in directing the study.

Another study by Badloe, Flanagan, Gore, Hozumi, Imhof, & So (2007)on universal primary education, Reaching the Unreached in Cambodia identified two main factors, supply-side factor consisting of public expenditure on primary education, pupil-teacher ratio, and school infrastructure and demand-side factor included poverty, geographic location, and ethnicity. Among these factors in finding, the poverty is critical factor which prominently influences on the effective access to primary education. But this study is keen to examine the school infrastructure which leads student to dropping out.

According to Rumberger & Lim (2008) indicated the main factors cause student dropout in upper secondary school during 25 years of researches on dropouts which consist of 203 researches. The study showed the two factors for out-of school students: the first, factors associated with individual characteristic of student included educational performance of student- academic achievement, persistence, and attainment; behaviors of student- engagement, course taking, deviance, peers and employment; attitudes- motivation, values, goals, and a self-perception; and background- demographics, health, and past experiences. The second, factors associated with institutional characteristic of school- structure, resources, and characteristic of student; families- structure, resource, and practice; and communities- institutional resources, parental relationship, and social relationship. The second factor is related to the study. The study showed that the school characteristics influencing on dropping out, school location, quality of teachers, teacher salaries, teacher ratio, pupils expenditure, and school size.

The study by Thanh and Long (2004) in Vietnam "Can Vietnam achieve one of its millennium development goals?" indicated some factors which contribute to dropping out school. The factors are child's characteristics, household economic situation, household per capita expenditure, direct cost of schooling, particularly, low quality of education, and together with the parents' incorrect perception of and the community's attitude to education values. For these factors in finding, this study examines the low quality of education influencing on schooling dropout. The low quality of education included the first curriculum and learning programs, teaching methods, and facilities for teaching and learning; and the second relates quality of teaching.



3.1 Research Design

A qualitative approach will be used in this study. Specifically, data will be collected through semi-structured interviews. The six dropout students will be interviewed individually and take around 90 minutes for each participant. The study will be conducted in one lower secondary school of students dropping out.

3.2 Sampling and Participants

The study will be conducted during second semester of the year 2011. The research participants will be the students' dropout at a lower secondary school in the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. Consent to participate in the research will be obtained from students who have dropped out of school prior to data collection. The researcher will use purposive sampling in this study to gain in-depth understanding of student's perceptions on factors of dropout and the main school related-factors causing them to drop out of school. Altogether seven dropout students in lower secondary level including both girls and boys will be interviewed.

3.3 Data collection


The purpose of this study is to obtain in-dept understanding student's perceptions on factors of dropout and the main school related factors on dropout. The semi-structured interviews will be conducted with six students individually to collect data. Each participant will spend around 90 minutes for interview. The question list on the matter of students dropping out will be used to obtain information on the research questions. The questions will begin with the background of students and then the researchers go to questions on students' perceptions on why student drop out of school and school related factors of dropout.

The researcher will use purposive sampling to select the participants who will be invited to participate in an interview. The researcher will contact them through the contact information provided by the school director by phone number or address to determine a suitable time and safe place for interview.

The questions will be designed based on the research questions of this study. The questions will focus on the school related-factors cause students dropping out of school. The questions for the interview also will be conducted in the Khmer language. Each interview will be recorded by tape and transcribed by asking in advance for permission from the interviewers for data analysis. No names will be mentioned on the transcription to ensure anonymity and confidentiality. Instead, a number will be assigned to each interview.

3.4 Data Analysis

According to Gay, Mills and Airasian (2009), data analysis will be started from the initial interaction with the participants and continues the interaction and do analysis throughout the whole study. After collecting the information from the research field, the researcher will start transcribing the interview from Khmer language to English from the tape recording and data collected from research field of interview will be analyzed. The researcher reads all data collection again and again in order to identify the concept and themes. After reading the data many times, the researcher organizes and prepares all kind information from participants' response and examine deeply the data to describe the setting, activities, and participants. And the last, the researcher classify data by categorizing and coding pieces of data and grouping them into themes.

3.5 Ethical Considerations

Applying for permission, the researcher will bring along letter, research permission form, from the Director of the Master of Education Program at Royal University of Phnom Penh to seek approval from the school principal or vice principals for some information about students dropout for collecting data and bring the information for participation and consent form to students who are drop out of school for interview for collecting data to whole the study.

A short explanation about the research purpose will be provided to participants and information for participation. The researcher asks permission from participants to participate the interview. After that consent form will be read in details and accepted by interviewer before interviewing for data collection. 1) The interviewees will be explained into detail that participation in the discussion is voluntary; and that Confidentiality and anonymity will be maintained. The researcher tells the participants that their personal information in the interview on this research will keep in secret at the researcher's place without knowing from anybody. 2) Students will be asked to sign a consent form to indicate their willingness to participate in the study. During the interview, if the participants don't want to answer or decide not to participate in the interview, that is fine.

3.6 Limitation of the study

This study has some limitation. First, the researcher will only conduct this study in a lower secondary school in outskirt of Phnom Penh, but the participants for the interviewing are not in school so the researcher might have some difficulty for inviting the participants for interview. Second, we are the fresh researcher; we may meet the problem with female participants during the interview because they will be shy for interview and the some participants will not be away from home. Third, the study will be conducted in a small number of students who drop out at a lower secondary school so the results will not generalize the reasons why students dropping out of school for all school level countrywide.


Badloe, C., Flanagan, J., Gore, R., Hozumi, T., Imhof, K., & So, P. (2007). Universal

Primary Education: Reaching the unreaching in Cambodia. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: UNICEF.

Courtney, J. (2008). Do monitoring and evaluation tools, designed to measure the

improvement in the quality of primary education, constrain or enhance educational development? International Journal of Educational Development , 28, 546-559.

Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasian, P. (2009). Education research. New Jersey: Pearson


MoEYS. (2007). Child friendly school policy. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: MoEYS.

MoEYS. (2009). Education statistics and indicators 2008/2009. Phnom Penh, Cambodia:


MoEYS, & UNICEF. (2005). Expanded basic education programme (EBEP), (Phase II).

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: MoEYS.

NEP. (2007). The impact of informal school fees on family expenditure. Phnom Penh,

Cambodia: Asian South Pacific Bureau for Adult Education.

Nonoyama-Tarumi, Y., & Bredenberg, K. (2009). Impacts of school readiness program

intervention on children's learning in Cambodia. International Journal of Educational Development , 29, 39-45.

Ruberger, R. W., & Lim, S. A. (2008). Why students drop out of school: A review of 25

years of research. University of California. Santa Barbara, CA: South Hall.

Thanh, V. T., & Long, T. Q. (2004). Can Vietnam acheive one of its millenium development

goal? Analysis of schooling dropout of children. Hanoi, Vietnam: CIEM.

Velascco, E. (2001). Why are girl not in school? Perception, realities and contraditions in

changing Cambodia. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: UNICEF.

VSO.(n.d). Reaching the unreached: Bridging the social divide in Cambodia through

inclusive educaiton. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: VSO.


Appendix A: Interview protocol


When were you born?

In ………………………………………..

Are you male or female?

Male Female

Where do you live?


What grade were you in?

Grade 7 grade8 grade 9

Where was your school when you were in school?


How long were you in school?

5 years 6 years 7 years 8 years 9 years

How many teachers taught you when you were in lower secondary school?

How many subjects do you learn in your grade?

What are the subjects?

What subject do you prefer to learning in your school?

How do you feel when you learn the subjects that you don't like?

Do you like your teacher's teaching activities?

Do your teachers use teaching material in the class

What teaching materials do your teachers use in the class?

How do you think about teaching material for use in your school?

What do you satisfy with school facilities in your school?

How do you like your school facilities in your school?

Please tell me your experience when you were in school?

What reasons do you provide to leave school?

What school related factors do you identify?

Appendix B: Information Sheet


PROGRAM: Master of Education

Research Title : Student's perception on Factors Causes Students Dropping out of School at Lower Secondary School in Outskirt of Phnom Penh.

Superviser: Dr Silja Ranjander

Researcher's name: Nhek Kosal

089 512 513

Name of participant: ……………………………….

Date of birth: ……………………………………… Location: …………………

Date: ………………………................................. Time: ……………………


You are invited to participate in Master's thesis study on the student's perceptions on factors influencing schooling dropout in lower secondary school. As mentioned early, I would like to invite you to take part in my study because I really want to know your perceptions on these factors.

The research objective

The aim of this study is to identify students' perceptions on why students dropout at a lower secondary school. Therefore, the researcher surely wants to interview the students who quitted school.

Research procedures

The interview lasts about 90 minutes with you today. I have some interview questions regarding your background and particularly, your perceptions on factors influencing schooling dropout. You don't have to answer the questions affecting your feeling. The interviews will be initially transcribed for analysis and translated into English and themes and patterns of responses will be clustered and labeled to assist in analysis.

The benefits for participating

You will receive some amount of money to compensate your time and participation in this interview today. Particularly, your participation also contributes to identifying factors influencing schooling dropout in lower secondary school. Moreover, your participation in this study will shed light on understanding of school dropout in Cambodian education system in lower secondary school.

Possible risks and confidentiality

The researcher stresses that taking part in the interviews is voluntary. Researcher prepares it carefully to keep your provided information confidentially and I will keep your name and address information in safe box at Royal University of Phnom Penh. There will be no identifying names used in the final thesis or any other papers produced from this research. Tape-recordings and transcription will be identified by a label in the interview. No further identifiers will be used. The code number will be used instead of the participants' name during the interviews. No any other participants' identification such as subjects and university will be identified through the process of analysis and the research report. The data will be used for this study only. However, your participation in this research can withdraw at any stage from the interview, or decide not to answer all questions.

Appendix C: Consent form


The objective of this study is to examine students' perception on why students drop out of school at lower secondary school in the outskirts of Phnom Penh. I have been clearly informed the intent and significance of this study in writing and verbally and I really understand what is wanted of me. I know that participating in this interview is voluntary and I am aware that I can have right to decline to participate and to withdraw from the research once participation has begun. I also recognize that my name and responses will be kept confidential and no one known me can have access to information. In order to compensate my time, I will be provided 5000 riel for taking part in this study.

With an understanding of above conditions:

I freely consent to participating in an interview for this research. YES 􀂆 NO 􀂆

I consent to having my interview recorded and a transcript made. YES 􀂆 NO 􀂆

Name: …………………………….(printed)

Signature (or thumb print) Date: ……………………………………………………………

Appendix D: Time Frame

Based on sufficient time of completing this research, I will spend around 8 months from April to December, 2011. From April to June, I will plan to draft my proposal and design instruments which are necessary to gather the data. Importantly, I will carry out pre-testing instruments to get reliable and valid data in July. After testing the instrument, I will start collecting data by visiting the field setting for about three weeks during August. And then after finalizing data collection, I will need two months to analyze the data collected. In December, I will start writing the final report. Finally, I will prepare to present a report of my study before the deadline of the program.











Draft research

Draft instrument

Pre-testing instruments

Data collection

Data analysis

Writing report

Submitting for defense