The Cambodia National Education System Collapsed Education Essay

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The Cambodia national education system collapsed during the Khmer Rouge regime. However, since 1979 it has been going through re-establishment and expansion. The Cambodian education system has been continuously reformed to meet the needs of national and regional economic and social developments. Since 1996, the education system has been structured to incorporate 12 years of general education (Primary and Secondary education). The medium of instruction is Khmer language. Six years of primary education and three years of lower secondary education make up the country's compolsory basic education provision followed by a further three years of upper secondary school. The Cambodian Constitution states that the Government has the duty to provide primary and secondary education to all citizens at least for nine years (Article 31 of education law, 2007, p.11).

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYs) have stated the Aims of curriculum policy and in those Aims it is stated that when students leave schools they should:

have the capacity to manage and take responsibility for their own actions and decisions and be self-reliant;

have employment related skills, an understanding of and positive attitude towards work and a capacity to manage and work effectively and harmoniously with other;

have the capacity to exercise judgment and responsibility in matters of morality and a commitment to identifying, analyzing and working towards solutions of problems experienced by their families and society (2004, p. 5).

The curriculum policy (2004) also states that the school will provide an environment that will enable students to engage in active learning, it also stresses all students should 'learn to know, learn to do, learn to be and learn to live together' (p. 5). Also included in the policy is the statement that formal education will equip students with the everyday Life Skills they will require to reach their full potential and to be effective and productive members of society (p. 5).

Cambodia's lower secondary education starts in grade seven and ends in grade nine. Biology is a compulsory subject in these grades and all students are required to study the subject for three years in lower secondary schools. Each biology teacher is given three government provided textbooks (one for each grade level) and one copy of the national biology syllabus as a guide to the content to be taught in each grade. Each student is given a copy of the biology textbook. There is one fifty minute period of biology lessons per week for a class and biology lessons are meant to include a combination of both theory and laboratory sessions. As a required subject biology is included in the national examination and students who have successfully completed their Basic Education will sit for the National Examination and be awarded the Diploma of Basic Education at the end of grade nine.

In the policy for curriculum development, the National Curriculum (NC) in Grades 7 - 9 comprises the following subjects. Each learning period consists of 50 minutes teaching, with the weekly indicated amount of time allocated to each subject (2004, p.10).

Table 1

The program of study following the time allocation per week indicated from the subject areas in grade 7, 8 and 9.

NC Subjects

No. of time per week





Social studies (Morals/Civics, History, Geography)


Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Environmental)


Foreign Languages


Physical and Health Education and Sport


Total NC


Local Life Skill Program (incl. Art education)




The Youth (YEP) project (2008) conducted amongst Cambodian youth, in school at work, unemployed or doing further education, stated that Cambodian youth reported that the school curricula needed to respond to job market demand as much as is possible. They identified a need for more focus on skills such as English language and computers. Wherever possible, teaching materials such as books and other information should be updated. Furthermore, applied research should be included in each field of study, as it will provide students with more analytical skill and more mastery of their subject studied.

Meeting the aims of the curriculum.

There are a number of ways that the effectiveness of meeting the aims of the curriculum can be measured, for example, long term classroom based observation observing both the content and the process of learning being used. Another approach is surveying employers and higher education teaching staff about the readiness of students or new staff for their new role. These are approaches are both time consuming and resource demanding. Another way of determining the alignment of the curriculum with the stated aims is to analyse the materials used in the classroom and their alignment to the policy.

The MoEYS has produced and distributed to Cambodian schools textbooks for all subjects and these inform the structure of the teacher's daily, weekly and semester teaching. The national examination is based on the content of the textbook and early findings from a current research project into senior secondary school textbook content has found that the examinations demand student recall of information and demonstrate some understanding but assessing for higher levels of thinking are not in evidence (personal communication, Walker, K. 2012).

With one of the national curriculum goals including developing students able to have the capacity to manage and take responsibility for their own actions and decisions and be self-reliant the development of a student's critical thinking skills is clearly implied even though it is not explicitly stated. One useful framework for determining the type of thinking being developed in the classroom is that of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy of Learning. This framework has been adopted extensively in many overseas educational systems as a tool to aid the teachers and students develop higher order thinking skills and it provides a structured way for developing learning programs that aim to produce learners with high level critical and analytical thinking skills.

The framework or taxonomy has been used to analyse the textbook content in a number of countries as part of a country's review and development of its curriculum content and the processes used in teaching and learning. The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives is a scheme for classifying educational goals, objectives, and, most recently, standards. It provides an organizational structure that gives a commonly understood meaning to objectives classified in one of its categories, thereby enhancing communication (Krathwohl, 2002).

Problem Statement

Although the MoEYS policy describes the purpose of Cambodian secondary and high schools as being to produce students who are critical and analytical thinkers the textbooks that are at the core of what is taught in all state schools have not been analysed to determine if such thinking is being developed. Through an analysis of the types of questions and learning tasks included in the Biology textbooks in lower-secondary school (grade 7 to 9) the levels and frequency of thinking skills can be accurately quantified and described. The textbook is the primary tool that contributes to helping teachers and students attain curriculum goals. The findings will provide clear indicators of how the policy's aims are being realized by the current curriculum and point to areas for further development.

Research Questions

How closely are the aims of the MoEYS curriculum policy aligned with the Grade 7 - 9 Biology textbooks?

Which levels and what frequencies are the thinking levels of Blooms' revised taxonomy evident in the Grade 7-9 Biology textbooks?

Significance of Study

This study will be beneficial for the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport as part of any review that may occur of the curriculum in use in schools. Whilst a small study focusing on 3 year levels and one subject it will be an indicator of some of the areas in the wider curriculum that need review and possibly further development. Moreover, it will help the teacher or program developer in making decisions on selecting the appropriate textbooks and learning materials. What is more, conducting an evaluation of the merits of a textbook will help familiarize the teacher with one strategy in textbook analysis that is transferrable across subject areas and grade levels.

Chapter 2

Literature Review

In identifying literature for this paper I reviewed both international and national sources. The resources used for the literature review were located in libraries, through ejournal collections available at the Hun Sen library and another university library and I also used books, articles and research reports about the school curriculum from the website of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, as well as from ERIC, and Google Scholar.

Keywords used for identifying relevant literature were divided into three categories such as textbook analysis, critical thinking, purpose of curriculum and history of revised Bloom's taxonomy.

Textbook Analysis

international literature review on textbook analysis.

In a study by Pingel (as cited in Nicholls, 2003) he outlined two major concerns in textbook research. The first concern regards the pedagogical implications of the text. In other words, how are textbooks used by teachers and received by students? The second concern regards the content of the text itself. In other words, what is included in the text, what is omitted and why?

Another researcher, Tok (2010) presented the results of the particular study, which aimed to assess the effectiveness of an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbook on teaching and learning English from the perspectives of teachers. The evaluation carried out at the macro level focused on six criteria namely layout and design, activities, skills, language type, subject and content and whole aspect.

Cunningsworth (1995) illustrated two types of textbook evaluation. He claimed that evaluation can took place before a textbook is used, during its use and after use depending on the purpose for which the evaluation is being undertaken. The aim of a pre-use evaluation is to look future or potential performance of the textbook. In-use evaluation, on the other hand refers to a kind of evaluation which is carried out while the material is in-use. However, post-use evaluation provides retrospective assessment of a textbook's performance. On the other hand, Ellis (1997) suggested that material evaluation of textbook could be conducted at three stages: predictive or pre-use, in-use and retrospective or post-use.

Skierso, Chall and Conard (as cited in Soori, Kafipour & Souri, 2011) utilized Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain to assess the processes and skills textbooks required learners to perform. The rating of a textbook directly reflected the level of skill it demanded. For example, a book that used synthesis and analysis would rate higher than one that demanded only comprehension. Chall and Conard have adapted Bloom's Taxonomy to create a "Question Complexity Rating Scale". They used this to evaluate individual questions in order to analyze the difficulty of questions and to display the range of cognitive skills needed by the students to complete textbook activities. These concerns highlight the increasing significance that professionals place on the process of learning and the recognition that focusing solely on outcomes often does not address all the second language learner's needs. I will be adopting Bloom's Revised Taxonomy for my research.

Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI, 2009), focused on textbook revision and educational reforms in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The project was funded by the German Foreign Office. In Egypt, a grade 6 civics textbook dating from 2005/06 contains the information is highly selective and quite superficial; the exercises and questions attached to each chapter focused on repeating information presented in the book. In additions, grade 7 civics textbook the texts are short and contain only very general information; exercises and questions focus on repeating and rearranging information given in the textbook.

national literature review on textbook analysis.

Morimoto and Maeda (2002) conducted a comparison of upper secondary biology textbooks in Cambodia and Japan. They compared Cambodian textbooks with two volumes of a textbook (IB=grade 10 and II=grade 11) of a certain publishing company in Japan. They were examined looking at three issues: whole content, students' activities and figures in the textbook. In the findings of the students' activities two problems are identified. One was that Cambodian textbooks contained few experiments. Another was that in Cambodian textbooks it was not easy to understand the procedures for some students' activities. Furthermore, there were some problems in the figures inserted into Cambodian textbooks. One of them was that some figures did not seem to take actual observation and experiments into consideration.

Purposes of Curriculum

In planning a curriculum the curriculum developers make decisions about the content, skills and attitudes they want pupils to learn.

According to the purposes of the national curriculum in England, for example, it is to secures for all pupils, irrespective of social background, culture, race, gender, differences in ability and disabilities, an entitlement to a number of areas of learning and to develop knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary for their self-fulfillment and development as active and responsible citizens (National Curriculum, 1999).

Likewise, Morris described the curriculum aims from Hong Kong education system to be:

The school education service should develop the potential of every individual child, so that our students become independent minded and socially aware adults, equipped with the knowledge, skill and attitude which help them to lead a full life as individuals and play a positive role in the life of the community (EMB, 1993).

The general aims of the sixth form curriculum are to produce balanced, well informed individuals who are proficient in both English and Chinese, and who are prepared for further education, work and adult life (CDC, 1993). (1996, p. 12).

Cambodian curriculum development.

The public was informed about the new curriculum through schools in 1996, simultaneously with the introduction of the new textbooks and learning materials. Thus, the reach of information was extensive. Students receive curriculum through textbooks and teacher guides. With limited production of learning materials, the curriculum was introduced and implemented year by year continuously from grades 1 to 7, providing lessons for designing textbooks and teacher guides, and the opportunity to orient manageable numbers of teachers each year on how to implement the curriculum.

Bloom's Taxonomy

In 1956, a framework that sought to describe different type of thinking was developed and became widely known as the in Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, named by default since Benjamin Bloom was the first name in the alphabetic list of authors (Anderson, 2006).

The original Bloom's Taxonomy was published in developed countries by Bloom and his associates in 1956. Krathwohl (2002) mentioned that the original Taxonomy provided carefully developed definitions for each of the six major categories in the cognitive domain.

In the Categories domain the categories were Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. With the exception of Application, each of these was broken into subcategories. The categories were ordered from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract. Further, it was assumed that the original Taxonomy represented a cumulative hierarchy; that is, mastery of each simpler category was prerequisite to mastery of the next more complex one. At the time it was introduced, the term taxonomy was unfamiliar as an education term.

Affective domain

Psychomotor domain

One of the most frequent uses of the original Taxonomy has been to classify curricular objectives and test items in order to show the breadth, or lack of breadth, of the objectives and items across the spectrum of categories. Almost always, these analyses have revealed a heavy emphasis on objectives requiring only lower level cognitive processing is recognition or recall of information. It is objectives that involve the understanding and use of knowledge. That are classified in the categories from Comprehension to Synthesis, and which are usually considered the most important goals of education aiming for higher order thinking. Such analyses, therefore, have repeatedly provided a basis for moving curricula and tests toward objectives that would be classified in the more complex categories.

Bloom's revised taxonomy of learning.

Dr. Lorin Anderson, a former student of Bloom's at the University of Chicago, updated the Taxonomy prior to his retirement. At the urging of publishers and education professionals, he agreed to the task, to reflect the enlarged understanding of the teaching and learning processes now available. He and the elderly Krathwohl, one of the editors of the original taxonomy, collaborated with seven other educators to produce the Revised Taxonomy. The collaborators agreed that the original taxonomy was ahead of its time, since alternative frameworks were nonexistent until Gagne's learning outcome classification scheme became available in 1977 and Merrill's Performance-Content Matrix, as part of his Component Display Theory did not appear until 1983. During the revision processes, the editors identified 19 alternative frameworks, developed to supplement, clarify, and improve upon the original Bloom's Taxonomy. The alternative frameworks were examined to determine how they might contribute to the revision of the updated taxonomy. Of these, 11 represented a single dimension like the original taxonomy while eight frameworks represented two or more dimensions as the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy (RBT) does.

As with the original taxonomy, in a study into the RBT conducted by Amer (2006), he found that any objective would be represented in two dimensions. Instructional objectives are formulated in terms of a verb-noun relationship. The verb or verb phrase described the cognitive process involved. The Revised Taxonomy separates the noun and verb components of the original knowledge category into two separate dimensions: the knowledge dimension (noun aspect) and cognitive process dimension (verb aspect). Thus, the knowledge dimensions include four instead of three main categories. Three of them include the substance of the subcategories of Knowledge in the original framework. But they were reorganized to use the terminology, and to recognize the distinctions of cognitive psychology that had developed since the original framework was devised. A fourth, and new category, Metacognitive Knowledge, provides a distinction that was not widely recognized at the time the original scheme was developed. Metacognitive Knowledge involves knowledge about cognition in general as well as awareness of and knowledge about one's own cognition. Metacognitive knowledge of learning enables students to perform better and learn more.

What is more, for the cognitive process dimension, the number of categories in the original taxonomy was retained but with significant changes. Three categories were renamed, Knowledge was renamed Remember, Comprehension was renamed Understand, and Synthesis was re-titled Create. Application, Analysis and Evaluation were retained, but in their verb form as Apply, Analyze and Evaluate. All the original subcategories were replaced with gerunds, and called cognitive process.

The subcategories of the six major categories were also replaced by verbs and some subcategories were reorganized. The knowledge category was renamed. Knowledge is an outcome or product of thinking not a form of thinking per se. Consequently, the word knowledge was inappropriate to describe a category of thinking and was replaced with the word remembering instead. Comprehension and synthesis were renamed to understanding and creating respectively, in order to better reflect the nature of the thinking defined in each category.

Table 2

The names of six major categories were changed from noun to verb forms.

Chapter 3

Research Methodology

This chapter described the, data collection methods, sampling methods and methods of data analysis. It included a description of some limitations of the various methods and a discussion of ethical issues that may arise in conducting the study and the steps taken to address them.

Data Collection

The appropriate method in collecting a data was the most essential in generating accurate information. In this research, the method was used to serve the objective which levels and what frequencies are the thinking levels of Bloom's revised taxonomy evident in grade 7-9 biology textbooks. This study will be a textbook evaluation. Using a coding scheme, all parts of lower-secondary school biology textbooks in terms of questions analysis of each chapter for their level of thinking skills. A coding scheme for classifying and evaluation the content of textbooks using Blooms' revised taxonomy was developed. Blooms' revised definitions of different levels of the cognitive domain were carefully studied and the key word examples were extracted and used. The coding categories were labeled as: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. Each coding category will include an example for each level, key words that represented intellectual activity on each level and sample task rubrics (Riazi & Mosalanejad, 2010).


I choose three biology textbooks sample in grade 7-9. Textbooks analyses are also a limited source because it focuses on a particular subject on three grades in one subject and also BRT.