Cost of Education Increasing, Study Finds

The education Cambodia’s children are receiving remains far below international standards, even as the cost of learning in­creases for families, according to a 10-year assessment completed by the Ministry of Education.

Parents are paying more for “tutoring” and extra classes, as teachers seek to improve their “miserable” salaries, Education Minister Tol Lah said in a recent interview. “This is the problem we are facing right now.”

The “Education for All Year 2000 Assessment,” published in November, calls the education reform progress “slow,” and outlines many of the problems preventing change.

“We may be far from our goals,” the study says, but progress is “slowly and carefully moving forward.”

Though the ministry is slated to receive 47 percent more mo­ney in 2000 than it received last year, the figure remains a small portion of the national budget, about 8 percent, the same as 1999, according to Tol Lah.

The report also shows that despite efforts by the Education Ministry, many indicators are lower than expected, and the few number of girls going to school remains a concern.

One of the primary goals of the ministry during the last 10 years was to provide at least primary education for all the nation’s children by the end of 2000. But the goal has not been reached.

Another cause for concern, the reports says, is the high number of dropouts.

The dropout rate in 1999 was nearly 15 percent, 5 percent higher than the ministry’s target established in 1990.

Educators also had hoped that 85 percent of students in 2000 would remain in school until the age of 17, but only 45 percent of the nation’s students stay in school until the end of upper secondary school.

There are positive signs. The secondary school system has greatly improved, and other indicators are gradually rising, including the number of qualified teachers, the report said.

The Constitution re­quires the government to provide nine years of education to its citizens. It also requires it to provide it free.

Tol Lah pointed out that the educational system has been troubled by a lack of funds, a devastated infrastructure, and the lack of qualified teachers. (Additional reporting by Phann Ana)


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