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The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) recognizes that regional and global activities in education development are an important mechanism for sharing experiences and learning lessons about education reform. This is particularly critical for Cambodia that tries to move quickly to restore, develop and modernize the education system. Moreover, the RGC has recognized a great importance of its citizens engaging with the regional and global labor market. As result, the RGC identified human resource development as one of its priorities and as an important agenda in the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II and in the National Strategic Development Plan.
In the Cambodian state education system, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYs) has reformed the curriculum several times as the education system has evolved and regional and international forces have been recognized and incorporated in the national educational priorities. For example, the development of a national policy on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) policy in year 2004 was the government's response to the increasing recognition of the role of computer technology and the internet in the capacity building and education of Cambodian students. The national curriculum policy development in 2004 included the incorporation of a structure of study where students were required to choose a subject major, either sciences or social study at the end of grade 10. This was, in a part, intended to allow the students to focus their studies in the senior years (Grade 11 and 12) as they looked to opportunities for future education and training or employment after completion of high school.
Increasingly students are aspiring to attend a university after completing their senior years at high school and from my observations and discussion with other teaching staff the students appear to be making the choice of subject major based on which is most likely to result in a high mark in the Grade 12 exam rather than on what subjects might best prepare them for university or further study after school. A student's result in the national grade 12 exam is the only factor that is considered when determining if a young person may enroll in university. Anecdotally it appears that increasing numbers of students are electing to study the science major in high school in the belief they can achieve a high mark allowing university entry however only a small percentage have been found to go on to further study in the sciences fields.
With little or no career education included in the formal education program of Cambodian secondary and high school students it is not known how young people make their selection in grade 10 of which subject major to focus on in their final two years of high school.
The education structure in Cambodia is a 12-year in general education program with Basic Education from Grades 1 to 9 (this includes: Primary Education from 1 to 6, and Lower secondary education from Grades 7 to 9. Upper Secondary Education is non-compulsory and is from Grades 10 to 12 and is divided into two stages: grade 10; and Grades 11-12. Tertiary education may be from 4 to 7 years at university and from 1 to 3 years for vocational and technical education.
The Cambodian government stated its commitment to achieve Education For All (EFA) by ensuring that all Cambodian children and youth have equal opportunity to access education by 2015 ( MoEYS & UNICEF, 2005). In relation to field of education the Constitution of Cambodia states that primary and secondary education should be provided by free to all citizens in public schools. The constitution further obligates the state to " protest and upgrade citizens' rights to quality education at all levels " and "take necessary steps for quality education to reach all citizens " (Chapter VI, Articles 65&68). The principle aim of schooling in Cambodia is to develop the human resources for economic process in Cambodia. The focus on the developing citizens able to contribute to the society is found in the vision and mission of MoEYS (MoEYS, 2005). The MoEYS vision is to establish and develop human resources of the very highest quality and ethics in order to develop knowledge-based society within Cambodia. The MoEYS mission is described:
In order to achieve the vision above, MoEYS has the mission of leading, managing
and developing the Education, Youth and Sports sector in Cambodia in responding to
the socio-economic and cultural development needs and the reality of globalization.
(2005, p. 1)
In 2004 the MoEYS reformed the educational system by developing the school curriculum in general education (Grade 1-12). There were changes with time allocation and subject choice. The MoEYS states:
Key features of the 1996 Core Curriculum have been upgraded and improved.
For example, the curriculum policy establishes teaching time allocation,
provide time in a curriculum for a Local Life Skill Program (LLSP) and offers
subject choice selection for Grades 11 and 12 students by adding learning
hours for each subject and students learn less subjects than before.(2004, p. ii)
The curriculum policy in 1996 had 13 subjects: Khmer Literature, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Earth Science, Morals-Civics, Home Economics, Sports and Art/Computer were compulsory for students in upper secondary school level (Grade 10 to 12). Since 2008, the MoEYS reformed the curriculum by offering the elective subjects for students in grade 10 to choose for their senior year in grade 11 and 12. This new curriculum policy development allows students to study only 7-8 subjects. It has 4 subjects that are compulsory and other 3 or 4 subjects are elective subjects. The purpose for the curriculum for Grade 11 and 12 is described :
The Grade 11-12 curriculum is to provide students with the opportunity for increased specialization through subject choice to develop a depth of knowledge in particular subjects or to take training-based vocational subjects or to participate in social life.(2004, p.12).
High school students confront many decisions about their future when choosing a direction after completing high school. For example, if they want to attend university or technical education, what their lifes' goals , which career field would they like to work in, what pathways do they need to take to achieve their goals?. Some high school graduates often don't feel confident in looking for employment and accessing accurate information about higher education and further education pathways, careers, and employment opportunities in Cambodia is a challenge for a young person trying to make an informed decision about their future direction. The recent creation of the National Employment Agency is one attempt to try to fill in some of the missing information gap by providing a great deal of labor market information through two convenient options: (a) online service at http://www.nea.gov.kh and (b) job centers services such as job net service, library service, and advisory and labor market information service.
Literature in the field of career development and career education stresses the important role of schools providing good quality and timely career education to young people in the 13 - 17 year age groups. It has been found that when young people in this age group are provided with quality career education their confidence in their ability to make informed choices for their direction after school is significantly improved (Bardick, Bernes, Magnusson and Witko, 2004). Students are often not clear when asked their subject choice and future career will be and this is as a result of a fairly short-term and narrow view of their lives, they rarely have a view of a future much beyond the end of school (Siann, Lightbody, Nic holson, Tait & Walsh, 1998). Most adolescents are at a disadvantage when it comes to opportunities for developing their career identities because they have limited access to role models of different career option. Thus, school career educators or career counselors are challenged to do as much as possible in educating students about career options and exposing them to a wide variety of occupations. The National Career Development Association's (NCDA) guidelines (1994), were instrumental in providing more effective career development programs for school career centers in the United States of America (Rowland, 2004).
Grade 10 students in Cambodia high schools are required to select their subject major for their final two years of high school and it is unclear why they make the choice they do. It has also been observed that a number of students in grade 11 will change their subject major for their final year and it is not understood why some students make such a change at such a late stage in their schooling.
In light of the lack of career education available for students in Cambodian schools, the lack of accurate information for making informed decisions about post-high school pathways available to students, their teachers and their families and in view of the trends I have observed of students making subject major selections apparently based on the goal of getting the highest score in the grade 12 national examination the following questions will be explored.
1. What are the reasons identified by grade 10 students in high school X for their senior school subject major choice? What influences on their decision making can the students identify when making their subject major choice at grade 10?
2. Why do many grade 11 students at high school X change to a different subject major for their final grade at school?
Significance of study
To assist students with their career decision making to the labor market's needs.
This chapter discusses the literature which has described some of the research conducted on school subject choice and students' decision making on future career pathways. It also discusses some of the literature that has explore reasons that students may change their subject major in the last grade in high school.
The literature in this review was found by using the websites of Google, google scholar, the Hun Sen free journal databases and, an overseas university e-journal collection. Key words used to identify articles included: subject choice, career development, career education, major choice, and career planning.
Other international literature was identified by the use of references in articles found. Several well- known scholars such as Elsworth, Beavis, Ainley, Fabris, Krumboltz, Holland have written many articles on career theory and career decision making.
Overview of Cambodia
national education system in Cambodia.
The national education system collapsed during the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-79). However, since 1979 it has been re-established. The Cambodia education system has been continuously reformed to meet the society's needs. Since 1996, the education system has consisted of 12 years of general education (Primary and Secondary education). The medium of instruction is Khmer language and the academic year runs from October to June.
Primary Education is the first level of the education system in Cambodia. It lasts 6 years (Grade 1 to 6). Children from the age of six are eligible this level of education.
Secondary education lasts 6 years. It is divided into lower secondary (Grade 7 to 9) and upper secondary (Grade 10 to 12). At the end of Grade 9 students take a national examination leading to a Diploma of lower secondary education. In the grade 9 exam there are 10 subjects: Khmer Literature, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Earth Science, Morals-Civics, and a foreign language (either English or French). Students are graded in A, B, or C for the national exam result. Individual subject results are not announced for the grade 9 exam. In the grade 12 exam, students sit 10 compulsory subjects such as Khmer Literature, Mathematics, Foreign Language (English or French), Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Earth Science, and Morals-Civics. Students are awarded an overall pass (grade A, B, C, D or E). Individual subject results (grade A-E) are also shown.
Policy for Curriculum Development
In 2008, the MoEYS issued the guidelines on the general education curriculum practice for upper secondary school which was to practice only grade 10 academic year 2008-2009, grade 11 academic year 2009-2010 and grade 12 academic year 2010-2011.
Career decision making theories
Career decision making is an important issue in the life of any individual. It affects life of an individual in all dimensions. Many people rely for their own and often their everyday life upon their income from their work. Matching a person's work to their interests and skills could contribute towards an individual living a life of meaning and purpose as well as meeting their material goals. However, choosing a career most suitable for an individual is not easy thing and is something that has been the focus of a number of writhers and researchers in the last 100 years. Numerous researchers have sought to explain how and why people make career choices and they have developed theories as an aid in explaining the career decision making process. I have selected two major theories for my review based on a scan of the extensive literature in the field of career education and decision making because these theories related to how people making decision.
According to Krumboltz's social-learning theory (as cited in Isaacson & Brown, 2000) a person makes their career choices through the perspective of behaviors he or she had been able to learn. Just as individuals had been able to learn the behaviors and skills they possess, and they were capable to learning new ones. In his theory on people's career decision making and career development Krumboltz argued that people are influenced by four factors " (a) genetic endowment and special abilities, (b) environmental conditions and events, (c) learning experiences and (d) task approach skills"(pp. 38-39).
( I need to find more how it can be used in school)
Holland's theory (as cited in Gibson & Mitchell, 2006) revealed that an individual express ed their personality through their career choice based on the following assumptions:
Most persons can be categorized as one of six types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional.
There are six kinds of environments: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, and conventional.
People search for environments that will let them exercise their skills and abilities, express their attitudes and values, and take on agreeable problems and roles.
A person's behavior is determined by an interaction between his personality and characteristics of his environment. (p. 64).
Brief definitions of the personality types are as follows:
Realistic (R) "The doers": prefer practical, mechanical types of activities, the outdoors and sports.
Investigative (I) "The Thinkers": prefer analytical, math and science-oriented activities and investigative tapes of activities.
Artistic (A) "The Creators": prefer creative, artistic types of activities.
Social (S) "The Helpers": prefer working with others, interpersonal activities, and helping.
Enterprising (E) "The Persuaders": prefer business-oriented activities, managing and influencing others.
Conventional (C) "The Organizers": prefer organization and working with data.
In this section the researchers reflect on the elements such as the heredity, environment, personality interest and learning experiences that influenced on career choices.
(I need to find more how the theory can be used in school program)
Importance of Career Education
In Canada, a research project was conducted by Bardick, Bernes, Magnusson & Witko (2004) that revealed that junior high students perceived career planning to be important for them when they reached high school or when they made a decision about a career, or when they looked for a job. The researchers argued that introducing the process of career planning to students at the junior high level would serve to increase students' awareness of the relevance of career decision-making and influenced their willingness to explore possible options, rather than the student off career planning until they were forced to make a decision. For example, when making subject major choices for senior high school.
Likewise, another study that focus on middle grades students by Schaefer, Rivera & Ophals reported that:
During the critical middle grades years, students need opportunities to gain greater self-awareness, access information about their educational and career options, and develop the skills and competencies they will need to make important decisions about their future (2010, p. 31).
According to Arrington, Trusty, Niles & Carney (as cited in Schaefer, Rivera & Ophals, 2010) the middle school grades (that is ages 12-15) were important times to students' career development, here students started to make decision that would impact not only their high school educational opportunities and experiences but also their post-high school educational and career options.
Students' Decision Making
In Australia, a study on generic interests and school subject choice was conducted by Elsworth, Beavis, Ainley, and Fabris (1999). Their findings revealed that there are strong and persistent associations between the gender and social background of students and their subject participation. Males were more likely to be enrolled in Agriculture, Computing, Mathematics, Physical Education, Physical Science and Technology, whilst females were more likely to be enrolled in Biology and Other Science, Creative Arts, Health, Home Science and Languages other than English. Higher socio-economic status students were apparently enrolled in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences; while lower socio-economic status students in Computing, Economics and Business, Health, Home Science, Physical Education, and Technology. Students chose the subjects to study in the final two years of secondary school based on their vocational interest.
Similarly, Smyth and Hannan (2006) researched school effects and subject choice with a focus on: the uptake of scientific subjects in Ireland. In their research, the analyses drew on detailed information of almost 4000 students in 100 secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland. It was found that students were seen to take subjects that were useful for their future careers, subjects they found interesting, and those in which they performed better academically, and these factors were also influenced by parent and/or teacher encouragement. Moreover, one issue raised by this study and needing further exploration was the way in which career guidance counselors could influence students' subject choices.
In Britain, Francis, Hutchings, Archer & Melling (2003) also conducted a study on subject choice and occupational aspirations among pupils at girls' schools. In this study, they found that females chose their preferred subject in terms of the quality of teaching, or the skill of teacher, and studying with inspiring teachers rather than boring ones. They enjoyed teachers who were encouraging, motivating and could make the subject and lesson interesting. Furthermore, the nature of the subject could be part of their subject choice. Findings also showed gender, rather than ability, played an important role in students' choices of future career.
Factors Related to Students' Decision Making
In a Kenyan study by Kithyo (2002) it was reported that some students were more or less pressured into certain careers by their parents. There seemed to be quite a struggle between what the parents wanted and what the students wanted. Parental pressure could be intense that students would capitulate and choose the programs desired by the parents. Some parents threatened to withdraw financial support from the students if they did not choose what they desired. Some students avoided discussing careers with their parents because the students thought the parents themselves not having any or a lot of formal education and being uninformed about career, could not help their children because they could not understand the requirement of various careers. However, the relationship between the students and their parents and the confidence the students placed in their parents' ability to assist them choose careers, are factors in the students' choice. Similarly, in United States other research conducted by Constantine, Wallace and Kindaichi (2005) found that family support could assist many African American adolescents in making decisions about their educational and vocational future.
According to the work of Simpon in (country?) (as cited in Sharf, 2006) mothers were found to have influenced the career choice of their children in nontechnical college majors, whereas the father supported technical college majors. Mothers often did this by being emotionally supportive of their children. A mother's emotional and occupational status had an important influence on the child's occupational choice.
In the study by Smyth and Hannan (2006) described earlier, they found that teaches may influence in students when they were faced with making decision about their subject major.
In the Canadian study by Bardick, Bernes, Magussoon and Withko (2004) on junior high career planning they found that students were more likely to rely on friends rather than their teachers or school counselors for help with career planning. Their study also found the students expressing the need for help with career decision-making, obtaining relevant information and support, and choosing appropriate courses.
In England, a study on subject choice and occupational aspirations among pupils at girls' schools by Francis, Hutchings, Archer and Melling (2003) found that gender played more important role than ability in students' choices of future occupation on school subject major.
Factors Related to Senior high school students changing their major.
There has not been any literature about students changing their subject major in the high school final year, both in local and interactional study.
The appropriate method in collecting data is most essential in generating accurate information. In this chapter described the sampling methods, data collection methods. It included a description of some strengths and limitations of the various methods and a discussion of ethical issues that may arise in conducting the study.
The study was conducted in one high school in a town. The study was conducted using qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Convenience sampling was the sampling method selected for this study, and it is easy for me to access to the students because I am a teacher in this school. With this regard, the students volunteer to participate in this study. Moreover in adopting this sampling approach the students, who are all volunteers, may be motivated and interested in participating in this study. A strength of this kind of sampling method is that researcher will choose any location which is easy to access to respondents. However there is a limitation for this sampling method which cannot be generalized to the other school (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007).
In this study, the quantitative method will be used to serve the objective: (1) To find out the reasons that Grade 10 students' identify for making their decision on their Grade 11 and 12 subject major and factors influencing on Grade 10 students making decision on subject major, and the qualitative method will also be used to serve the objective: (2) To find out why some Grade 11 students change their subject major for their final grade at school.
In this study, the researcher will apply a quantitative data collection method by using questionnaires to identify the reasons and factors influencing on Grade 10 students making decision on subject major. The primary data will be collected from Grade 10 students with 14 classes. The number of students in each class are approximately 60 students, so with a large number of population the random sampling will be used to select the student in each class with males and females that there are the same percentage to that of an original population. On the other hand, a qualitative data collection method will be used to find out why students in Grade 11 change their subject major in the final year by using a focus group. The primary data will be selected from Grade 11 with 16 classes in which each class approximately 60 students. In this case, the researcher also use the random sampling.
According to Berg (2009) states that random sampling is the process that every individual has equal chance to be selected and participate in the study. It is also the best way that sample can represent the whole population.
Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2007) stressed that there were many methods for a data collection "Questionnaires, interviews, accounts, observation, tests, personal constructs and role-play " (pp. 317-456). However, two techniques used to collect data in this study are questionnaires (pen and pencil survey) and focus groups in interview method.
Questionnaire is a data collection approach which the researcher will be able to use a large number of questions, and provides the respondents an opportunity to express their own perspectives and comments. Furthermore, the researcher will use less time with a great population of participants compared to that of interview (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998).
According to Anderson and Arsenault (1998) argued that there are the limitations of using questionnaire as a data collection method if the participants do not understand the questions, and they do not answer to the difficult questions. Moreover, the participants will respond based on the set questions.
The focus group is used in qualitative research and is the most common method used
to collect data. According to Downs, Adrian, Edumunds, Marshall, Rossman and Salkindthe
(as cited in Berg, 2009) claimed that the researcher could have much information from the
participants in short period of time, and it can make the vital insight in the particular topic
that research do not understand in a previous time. In addition, it is highly flexible with a
large number of participant group, costs and duration.
The limitations of the focus group are that the researcher will acquire the results as
group opinion, not an individual one, the time is limited in group discussion approximately
between 30 to 60 minutes ( Berg, 2009). In addition, the focus group is impossible when the
information must be kept confidentially (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998).
To collect the data, ethics are considered when developing the sample. This study
aims to collect data from students who have currently studied in state school in Cambodia.
Information is clearly given to participants about what the study is, and how they could assist to participate, and the information included who am I, why I do this research, and the topic of the study. What is more, I will tell participants that they will not be identified, because the survey is anonymous.
Only the volunteer students are asked to participate in this study.
The data collection procedure is also informed to students who have studied Grade 10 and 11. However, in the process of collecting data, participants will not given any rewards to complete the questionnaires or participate in group discussion.