The Accreditation Committee of Cambodia has certified 73 universities throughout the country, signifying that those institutions meet educational standards set by the Ministry of Education.
The ministry has been accrediting higher education institutions since 2006, initially approving 33 universities for the 2006-2007 school year. Forty more universities were officially accredited by the committee during the 2007-2008 school year.
Tech Samnang, director-general of the ACC, which works under the Council of Ministers, said the committee is working independently of the Education Ministry to see that the ministry’s standards are being met.
“Previously, there were lots of complaints about the education standard in Cambodia,” he said.
He added that in 2008, the ACC evaluated 76 of Cambodia’s 104 higher education centers, with only three not making the grade.
Institutions that fail to meet the standards will not be allowed to take on any new first-year students until they can fulfill the ministry’s requirements, Tech Samnang said.
Lav Chhiv Eav, rector of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said the accreditation process is valuable and noted that his university has been accredited since 2006.
“Evaluation encourages us to be well prepared for teaching,” he said.
However, Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association, questioned the integrity of the annual accreditation process.
“Lots of university owners are high-ranking officials in the government,” so the evaluation process involves corruption, he claimed.
The government, he added, should focus on strengthening basic educational standards.
“Education is like a building. We need a strong and reliable base. If fundamental education is weak, university education is also low,” he said.
Tech Samnang denied that the accreditation process was influenced by the wealthy owners of educational institutions, adding that his staffers are forbidden from accepting food or gifts from the schools they evaluate.
“If ACC is not accurate or transparent, the higher education institutes would complain about the results that we have released,” he said.