A multimillion-dollar grant from the World Bank paved the way for more than 150 primary schools to be built in seven provinces this year while another 127 are slated for construction in six provinces, government and World Bank officials said this week.
“The World Bank has given $57.4 million for school building, and 60 percent supports construction,” said Suong Yen, the Education Ministry’s director of construction.
The building of 152 primary schools in Kompong Cham, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kampot and Koh Kong provinces began nine months ago and wrapped up last week, Mr Yen said.
He added that the construction of 127 additional primary schools would begin “next week if the weather is good.”
Forty schools are destined for Siem Reap province, 33 in Battambang province, 22 in Banteay Meanchey province, 15 in Pursat province, 11 in Oddar Meanchey province and six in Kompong Chhnang province.
The second phase of construction should cost about $7.3 million dollars, according to published contracts. The schools should be built within nine months.
Forty-one schools were to be built in Preah Vihear, but that project was postponed due to a lack of qualified builders in the area, Mr Yen said. He added that the Preah Vihear schools will eventually be built, but said construction will be broken into sub-projects allowing smaller contractors to make bids.
The ministries of Economy and Finance and Education, Youth and Sports secured the $57.4 million from the World Bank’s Education Sector Support Project, which began in 2005, according to information provided by Bou Saroeun, World Bank Cambodia spokesman.
He said this particular project was approved in 2008 and the grant is good through 2012.
Mr Saroeun said the grant is being distributed piecemeal, with each step of construction receiving funds from the World Bank as contracts are signed, materials are identified and labor is hired.
Ou Eng, director general of the Education Ministry’s education department, said the government shouldn’t have difficulty staffing the schools, as primary-school teachers aren’t in short supply. Kindergarten teachers, however, could be difficult to find, he said.