The Theory And Practice Curriculum Design

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The modern higher education (HE) in Cambodia has gone through 4 periods of change started from 1949. The first period was named establishment of institute (1949-1975) and there were only three higher education institutions (HEIs). Next era of HE was called destruction (1975-1979), and then under the Khmer Rouge the HEI was closed. During 1980s, the third stage was named rehabilitation of institution stemmed from foreign aid and market force. Phnom Penh government tried to survive from war-torn situation and build nation with participation from human resources with higher education training from communist bloc countries (ZHANG, 1997). The fourth stage has been called the time of political stability, peace, social development (late 1997-present). Since 1997 with the policy of opening private investment in HE sector by Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), the first private university was established. At the same time the National Higher Education Task Force was established supported by the World Bank and was changed to Department of Higher Education in 2002. By 2001, there were only 02 private HEIs while in 2002 there were 10 private HEIs. The trend of opening new private HEIs and the gradual increase number of students passing grade 12 has accelerated the movement of opening new private HEIs without studying the future labor market needs and skills for social development. The number of HEIs has been rising rapidly up to 91 of which 34 and 57 are public and private institutions respectively over the country (MoEYS, Policy and Curriculum Office, 2011). Implementing the Strategic Framework for Decentralization and De-concentration Reforms, the MoEYS also prepares the policy of decentralization and de-concentration in education for aiming at delegating the authority and responsibility from central level to provincial, district and education institutional level (Article 7, Education Law, 2007). Then the process of administration and management including curriculum development is autonomously done by each HEI.

1.2 Research problem

Noticeably, according to Prakas 1435 MoEYS.BK and sub-decree 54 ANK, the private investment partners can open the HEIs with pursuant of at least three required faculties (faculty of arts, humanity and languages, faculty of mathematics and science and faculty of social science) and other two elective faculties. Concerning to the curriculum development, the process is also delegated to each HEIs and finally approved by MoYES. Consequently, some HEIs just list above three faculties on the paper but they attentively focus on curriculum and major oriented to service related skills instead. Among 12,747 graduates in 2010 from 10 HEIs across Cambodia, there are 7512 graduates (58.9%) with business and service major, whereas the demand majors like agriculture, medicine and mathematics science (McNAMARA, V., 2008 & National education congress report, 2010) for social and economic development are considerably low 813 (6.3%) (MoEYS, Statistics and Information Office, 2010). Moreover, it also makes the private sector and some tycoon invest and open private HEIs offering the majors which mismatch between the labor market and skills for social needs. The employers believe there is a gap between the skills offered by HEIs and skills needed by industry. In another word, there is a mismatch between the skills they need and the skills possessed by Cambodian graduates and some universities could not provide the required number of students majoring in the skills that those companies need (CAMFEBA, 2008). This curriculum development by decentralizing does not align with the policy of MoEYS and the first angle (strengthening the quality of education) of capacity building and human resource development angel of rectangular strategy phase II of RGC (NSDP, 2010). As mentioned above, the curriculum division in each HEI does not actively involve in curriculum design or there is no action in terms of curriculum update to current and future social needs.

1.3 Research objective

The objective of the research is to study and identify the gap of theory and practice of curriculum design (decentralization approach) in Cambodian private HEIs and the reasons behind the existence of the current curriculum.

1.4 Research question

1. What theories and processes does HEI management team in each HEI use

to design the curriculum or courses as they are offering now?

2. What are the consequences of unsystematical HE curriculum design?

3. Who are the stakeholders in curriculum development?

1.5 Hypotheses

1. The theory and practice of curriculum design are not in line in Cambodian context.

2. Unemployment is a negative consequence of unsystematical HE curriculum


1.6 Significance

This research will be a crucial document for curriculum design since it can reveal the consistence or mismatch between the theory and the practice of curriculum design of programs offered by HEIs. Additionally, it can be a lesson learned, findings and a component for a policy reform to improve the quality of curriculum design in internal HEIs and to produce the qualified human resources for Cambodia. Importantly, it can be advocate of promoting a closer cooperation among the internal HEIs level and central level, though they are implementing decentralization in curriculum design. In so doing, the curriculum design will be more productive for each own HEI particularly and social and national demands in general. Last, it will be a good message to encourage more participation from education stakeholders such as management, faculty, student, community, donor, and industry.

1.7 Definition of key terms

Decentralization is the process of the dispersing decision-making governance closer to the people and/or citizen. It includes the dispersal of administration or governance in sectors or areas like engineering, management, science, political science, political economy, sociology and economics (Wikipedia, 2011).

Curriculum design or curriculum development is the study and development of the goals, content, implementation, and evaluation of an educational system. In language teaching, curriculum development (also syllabus design) includes: (1) the study of the purposes for which a learner needs a language; (2) the setting of objectives, and the development of a syllabus, teaching methods and materials; (3) the evaluation of the effects of these procedures on the learner's language ability (Richards, J. C., Platt, J., & Platt, H. 2002, pp. 94-95).

Higher education (the third level (3rd Phumaseksa) of education) is the education following the secondary education in higher educational establishments. Higher Education shall teach learners to have complete personality and characteristic and promote the scientific, technical, cultural and social researches in order to achieve capacity, knowledge, skills and morality, inventive and creative ideas and enterprise spirit to the development of the country. (MoEYS, 2007).

1.8 Proposed Chapter Organization

This research study is organized in five chapters as follow:

Chapter 1 is introduction covering on background information of the study, problem statement, research objective, research question, significance of the study.

Chapter 2 is literature review which makes use of various local and overseas studies to construct a logical framework and review of curriculum design with decentralization.

Chapter 3 is research methodology which deals with research design, instruments for data collection, population/sample, data collection, data analysis, ethical consideration, strength and limitation.

Chapter 4, analysis and discussion, will present the findings related to the theory and practice.

Chapter 5 is conclusion and recommendation.



2.1 Review context

Cambodia is a unitary state which following constitution and democracy. The concept and implementation of decentralization and de-concentration is carried on after the document of the strategic framework for decentralization and de-concentration is adopted by the Royal Government of Cambodia at the plenary meeting of the Council of Ministers on 17 June 2005 (RGC, 2005). Since it is the fundamental reform of administration of RGC, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) implemented this policy in year 2006 and it is also adjusted in the Education Strategic Plan 2006-2010 (MoEYS, 2006). The implementation of decentralization is also carry out in the process of curriculum design to each HEI, too. According to section 5 of Prakas 1435, each HEI are delegated to have a curriculum development/design division.

2.2 Curriculum design with decentralization in higher education

To involve in policy of decentralization and to achieve the main policy of education, MOEYS has defined three main policy priorities (1) Ensuring Equitable Access, (2) Improving the Quality and Efficiency, and (3) Institutional and Capacity Development for Educational Staff for Decentralization. The MOEYS has been strengthening its focus on the policy of institutional and capacity development for educational staff for decentralization (MoEYS, 2010). In the process of curriculum design/development in higher education, the Department of Higher Education is MoEYSs' subordinator, has decentralized the process of curriculum design/development to each private Higher Education Institution. Even the process is not clearly stated in the regulation but it is required. Another form of decentralization and de-concentration of MoEYS is school based management (GmbH, June 2007). According to Sub decree 54 in the third point of article 3, it is stated that the proposed dossiers for the establishment of university shall be submitted to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. The proposed dossiers comprise of the detailed course curriculum, including its contents and curriculum design. It means that HEIs need to make any form of design the curriculum among their management.

The further readings and following document have been consulted briefly:

Barnett, R., Parry, G. and Coate, K., (2001) 'Conceptualising Curriculum Change', Teaching in Higher Education, 6, 4, 436-449

Boud, D & Prosser, M (2002) Appraising new technologies for learning: A framework for development, Education Media International.

Houston, D. (2004) Building Better Bridges: Why curriculum matters, in De Silva & Browne (eds.) Engineering Education for an uncertain future: Proceedings of the AEESEAP Mid-Term Conference, Auckland, New Zealand

Knight, P. T., (2001) 'Complexity and Curriculum: a process approach to curriculum-making', Teaching in Higher Education, 6, 3, 369-381

Parker, J., (2003) 'Reconceptualizing the Curriculum: from commodification to transformation' Teaching in Higher Education, 8, 4, 529-543

Prideaux, D (2003) ABC of learning and teaching in medicine: Curriculum design. BMJ, 326, 268-270.

Prideaux (2007) Curriculum development in medical education: From acronyms to dynamism Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 294-302.

Print, M. (1993).  Curriculum Development and Design.  Sydney:  Allen and Unwin

Simpson, R. D., (1999) 'Ralph Tyler on curriculum: A voice from the past with a message for the future', Innovative Higher Education, 24, 2, 85-87

Morris, P. (1996). The Hong Kong School Curriculum: Hong Kong. Hong Kong University Press.

2.3 Review of curriculum design

There should be an attentive consideration from concerened edcation partners when the curriculum design in higher education is being developed since higher education covers the enhancement of studying of science, technology, culture and society with high capacity, knowledge, skills, morality, inventiveness and the spirit of entrepreneurship for the socio-economic development of the country (GmbH, June 2007). If not, unpredictable and unbelievable consequence will be happened to current community and next young generations.

The process of curriculum design is very systematically and consequently. In principle, the significant elements of curriculum are student, purpose, teacher, content, learning and teaching (materials), industry/business and evaluation of performance. ( ). Importantly, the purpose of curriculum design comprises of the aim of programs and the social aspiration of society. It means while the curriculum designer intend to design the curriculum, they need to perspect the current situation and future society demands. The courses/ majors offered by HEI are sucessful/productive as long as the graduates with those major have job and can serve nation. Additionally, In terms of organizing the content of curiculum, curiculum designers have to focus on the knowledge (English, science), skills, ideology, practice and attitude and values. (Motlotle, Wright, Sisimayi,&al,2009). (See Picture: the process of curriculum design)

In Cambodian Higher Education, the minimum credits for 4 year Bachelor Degree (BA) is allocated with 120 and the period of its study is not more than 6 years (ACC, 2004). Technically, the curriculum development unit is the evaluation team or teachnical unit in each HEI. This team plays an important role to design appropriate content, method and check and gove feed back to planner, learner, teacher, industry to anwer the sustainability and the appropiateness of curriculum answering to social needs. According to Prakas 1435 of MoEYS, each HEI shall have their own curriculum development division, its function is the same as stated above.

Furthermore, regarding to the influencial factors of curriculum design. According to the following picture. The most influencial factors are univisity, students, content, goal . expection of employer, and policy of the government. Those are the marjor inputs. The factors are integrated and channel to internal curriculum design unit, then they will interact among students and staff to promote the learning and teaching material, and review content. Somehow, when they want to have comprhensive improvement, they can continue to discuss with external stakeholders- university, society, furture employers. Finally, it will come up with intended learning which can be called the output. A good output can be defined correctly when the graduates have employement.

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3.1 Research design

This research will implemented with quantitative method, since some pictures or predictable answers can be seen before the practical research is done (Muijs, 2004). For instance, we are aware of ignorance and less comprehensive participation in the process of designing and upgrading curriculum after its process is decentralized. Though, we really need to have exact findings by doing research.

3.2 Tools/instruments for data gathering

In order to conduct this research the following tools- questionnaires, audio recorder, camera, computer, will be used before, during and after data collection.

The main instruments are what related to stakeholders- managements particularly the person in charge of curriculum design. Hence the consent form, letter of recommendation, questionnaires and interviewing tools will be handed to them formally. Furthermore, alternatively interview will be applied. Researcher will need the interview with focal people (curriculum designers) regarding to process and development of designing curriculum from the beginning of establishment of HEIs, in last five years curriculum and now.

3.3 Participants

First, the primary data colleting by conducting interview and handing questionnaires will be conducted with concerned persons at private HEIs, (1) higher education department- two officials and a deputy director in charge of curriculum, (2) management/board (a member in charge of curriculum), dean (two deans) and head of department (1 relevant department head), faculty (5 lecturers teaching relevant course), curriculum designer (all curriculum development division member), students (8 present academic year students and 8 graduates) and (3) donor partners and industry.

3.4 Description for variables

In this study, first the independence is theory of curriculum design with decentralization approach while curriculum design is the dependent. Particularly, this context, curriculum design is the consequence of the process of stated theory of curriculum design with decentralization. Secondly, the variable will be included in the questionnaires.

3.5 Data collection

First, the questionnaires will be handed to targeted persons. Sometimes, researcher needs to get face to face for clarification or further information. Next it will be stored as soft and hard copy depends on its original and converted format.

3.6 Data analysis

Data analysis is conducted in the following steps:

First step: collect all answers from participants answering questionnaires;

Second step: verify and check respondents' answer to limit the invalid, too biased;

Third step: prepare for data entry and analyze;

Fourth step: present the result and discussion.

3.7 Ethical consideration

To ensure that the research is ethical, first official letters (letter of recommendation) from my university to issue a request letter for this research will be obtained. More importantly, the responsibility is to explain clearly what the research is about and how it will be disseminated in case that they are afraid of accepting the request and the participants have their own right to refuse to participate. Moreover, questions will be asked with the informed consent of participants. The name of participants or institutions will be kept anonymous and confidential or labeled as pseudonym. Real names will be identified if there is written approval from participants, if necessary from any specific audience. We will be aware of potential use to which data might be put. To give value to the authors of previous study, (American Psychological Association) APA format will be used.

3.8 Strength and limitation

This study is a crucial because it is the current issue and it needs to have an urgent possible solution for upgrading the curriculum design in HEIs and it also can partly reduce unemployment rate and plan for a long term human resource orientation and social development. It will build the capacity of member curriculum design unit in HEI, interestingly if its process and curriculum is well planned, it will be a good model and other HEIs's faculty or curriculum design members can take in to consideration and practice. It also mobilize internal existing human resources in HEI to better the quality of it and build close cooperation and mutual learn from faculty to another and among HEIs in Cambodia. If so doing, the MoEYS and RGC can achieve the administration reform and quality enhancement and qualified human resource developments as well.

On the other hand, there is limit in term of sample of selected HEI (Targeted major only), the research will not cover all private HEIs. In addition, since this issue is not yet done before, literature reviews are very limited in Cambodian context. Hence the researcher needs to try hard to make this research more concrete. Furthermore, since it is an administration process in term of access the internal process of curriculum design in each HEI; the reliability might be not easy to get.


This study is very significant finding because it will be informative message for (1) central level - reforming the policy and strategy of human resource development in general and particularly the education sector (higher education sub sector). It means even they decentralize to lower level, however; they cannot leave such important process alone with HEIs. The participation from central level is indispensable. Furthermore, it visualizes the current practice of decentralization of curriculum design which needs the attentive participation from central level, management, faculty, labor industry, parents and donor. It can be a message to encourage more awareness to (2) HEIs level- curriculum designer to be open and be a perspective and comprehensive person to develop and offer the courses matching to the social needs and labor market demands. Last, it will be a call for (3) educational stakeholders to get more active involves with the education sector especially the process of curriculum design since it is the very potential to produce the qualified human resources and needed labor for economic growth for Cambodia. Naturally, the process of producing the qualified human resources for sustainable development of nation cannot be attained in a decade. Undeniably we need to plan ahead for a policy of curriculum development to produce the human resource for the right time of progress of nation.


(2011, February 21). Retrieved February 21, 2011, from

ACC. (2004, November 19). Decision on Implementation of Credit Program and Transfer.

Phnom Penh: Accreditation Committee of Cambodia.

ADB. (1996). Cambodia: Education Sector Strategy Study.

Bayhaqi, A. (2004). Decentralization in Indonesia: Th Loe Possible Impact on Education

(Schooling) and Human Resource Development for Local Regions.

CAMFEBA. (2008, July). Youth and Employement: Bridging the Gap. A study about and

employer perspectives on education, skills, opportunites and the future.

Galiani, S., & Schargrodsky, E. (19 September 2001). Evaluation the Impact of School

Decentralization on Education Quality.

GmbH, A. C. (June 2007). Cambodia: Education Regulatory Reform and Governance for

Decentralization. Berlin, Germany: ADB. . (n.d.). Retrieved March 04, 2011, from

curriculum-development/ . (n.d.). Retrieved March 04, 2011, from

Leme, M. C., Paredes, R. D., & Portela, A. (October 2009). Decentralization and Education

Performance: A First View to the Brazilian Process. Sao Paulo.

McNAMARA, V. (September, 2008). Vision strategy and human resource development plan

for MoEYS higher education. Phnom Penh.

MoEYS. (2007). Education Law. Phnom Penh: MoEYS.

MoEYS. (2006). Educational Strategic Plan 2006-2010. Phnom Penh: MoEYS.

MoEYS. (2010). Educational Strategic Plan 2009-2013. Phnom Penh: MoEYS.

MoEYS. (2010). National education congress report on education, youth and sport

performance for academic year 2008-2009 and the academic year 2009-2010. Phnom Penh: MoEYS.

MoEYS. (12 September 2007). Prakas No 1435 MoEYS.PK on conditions and the details for

licensing higher education institution. Phnom Penh: MoEYS.

MoEYS. (03 June 2002). Sub-Decree No.54 ORNKR.BK on criteria for establisment of

university. Phnom Penh: MoEYS.

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Phnom Penh: Department of Higher Education.

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Penh: Department of Higher Education.

Morris, P. (1996). The Hong Kong School Curriculum. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Uiversity


Motlotle, K., Wright, C. R., Sisimayi, R., & al, e. (2009). Curriculum Theory Design and

Assessment. Vancouver, Canada: The Commonwealth of Learning.

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Universtiy of Phnom Penh.

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Cambridge university Press.

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I am doing Master of Education at Royal University of Phnom Penh. As the requirement of the faculty, I am conducting one research on "The Theory and Practice of Curriculum Design with Decentralization in Higher Education: A Case Study in Private Higher Education Institutions" Hence, so as to get the data to analyze for the finding, I need your participation in completing the questionnaire underneath. I promise that your information will be kept confidential, so please feel free to complete these survey questions.

Thank for your cooperation.


Notice: The participants shall have three year experience in HE.

Please tick and answers what represent of your current status or views.

Your Gender

Male £

Female £

Your Age Rage

20-25 £

25-30 £

30-35 £

35-40 £

40-45 £

45-50 £

50-55 £

55-60 £

Current Position:


Director/Deputy Director £

Chief/Vice Chief £

Official £

Others ______________


Board £

Dean £

Faculty £


Donor £

Work as Consultant £

Undergraduate Student

Name of HEI

Year One £ Year Four £

Year Two £ Year Three £ Others______________


1. How long have you worked in Higher Education sector?

3 Years £

6-8 Years £

4-5 Years £ More than 8 Years £

2. How long have you worked in curriculum development in Higher Education?

3 Years £

6-8 Years £

4-5 Years £

8-More Years £

3. To what extend do you understand/know the regulation of curriculum development process of MoEYS?

Unknown £

Known £

Fairly known £

Clearly known £

5. How long does it take to finish a new curriculum of course/major offered in your HEI?

Less than

6 Months £

12 Months £

6 Months £

1-2 years £

More than 2 Years £

12. What are the easiness and difficulty of curriculum development process in (your) institution?

Very easy £ Fair £

Very difficult£

Easy £

Difficult £

13. How is (your) curriculum development process in (your) HEIs match labor market/social development demand?

None £ Little £ Medium £ Slightly match £ Strongly match £

14. Who are invited to involve in the beginning stage of curriculum design?

Student £ Faculty £ Curriculum Expert £ HEIs Management £ Concerned Industry £ Government Agency £ Ministry of Labor £ Development Partner £

15. Who are invited to involve when there is a reform/change of curriculum design?

Student £ Faculty £ Curriculum Expert £ HEIs Management £ Concerned Industry £ Government Agency £ Ministry of Labor £ Development Partner £

16. How often do you have meeting on curriculum design per year?

Once £ Twice £ Three times £ Four times £ Five times £



Letter of Recommendation

Date….., 2011

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to take this opportunity to recommend one of my students in Cohort 4, Mr. KOH Sokunthy, a Master's student at Royal University of Phnom Penh for his research in your institution and ask you to give him kind help for his research. I am a director of Master of Education Program.

Mr. KOH Sokunthy is a Master's student of Master Program of Education, Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Mr. KOH Sokunthy is doing a research focusing on education field. He has already completed course work at Master of Education (Med). His research focuses on the theory and practice of curriculum design with decentralization in private higher education institutions.

Based on the above statement, I would like to recommend him to conduct his research at your institution. If you have any comply, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely yours,

NITH Bunlay, Ph.D.

Director of Master of Education Program

Royal University of Phnom Penh

Email: [email protected]



PROGRAM Masters of Education

Full title of Project: Theory, Practice of Curriculum Design with Decentralization in

Higher Education:

A Case Study in Private Higher Education Institutions.

Name: KOH Sokunthy

Contact: 017/016 928 316

Email: [email protected]

Please initial box

I confirm that I have read and understand the information sheet for

the above study and have had the opportunity to ask questions.

I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I

am free to withdraw at any time, without giving reason.

I agree to take part in the above study.

Please tick box

Yes No

Include the following statements, if appropriate, or delete this section from the consent form:

I agree to the interview / focus group / consultation being audio


I agree to the use of anonymised quotes in publications

I agree that my data gathered in this study may be stored (after it

has been anonymised) in a specialist data centre and may be used

for future research.

I agree that I can stop/ pause any time and skip any question if I have no interest to carry on paritcipation in this research.

Appendix D: TIME FRAME

Date 2011




Find the relevant sources:

the process/theory of curriculum design;

the background/process of decentralization in education;

the methods and elements of curriculum design;

the literature reviews of curriculum design;


Critically read and produce the concept and paper:

Read the relevant existing documents;

Link to another relevant sources;


Synthesize to the topic and get discussion with supervisor:

Frequently meet the supervisor;

Get comment/feedbacks and make changes;


Start the background and introduction part;

Literature reviews;


Develop the tools, instruments;

Site visit and start data collection;

Hand the questionnaires

Clean data


Data entry;

Analyze and discussion;


Continue the data collection and analyses;


Finish the chapter 4 (Analyses and discussion)


Finish conclusion;

Overall review the research study;


Add and make change the necessary elements in research study.


Critically review the content and concept of research study and self developed questions to oppose research and recommandation;


Proofread and edit the grammar error;

Develop the slide presentation;

Submit the final research study paper.

Appendix E: Sample of Picture of Curriculum design.

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Appendix F: The influential factor on curriculum design

Appendix G: Equity of HE Enrolment: Provincial Parity Index Map