Cambodia’s private schools have grown in response to the poor quality of public schools. Despite government schools being both spacious and free, families send their children to private schools. Thus, it is surprising the Ministry of Education is drafting measures that will close some private schools, as reported in “Private Schools to Face Tougher Regulations” (June 2, page 17).
First, the provision that if a school “size is 1,991 m2, a school will be allowed to have only 150 students” makes private schools uneconomical. Moreover, no science says floor space of a school affects learning. The ratio seems the conjecture of bureaucrats. It is more logical to reduce student-teacher ratios, a measure violated by crowded public schools.
Second, measures that would require private schools to deposit funds with the ministry are flawed. Since the deposit will never be returned except in bankruptcy or closure, the deposit is a massive tax. In contrast, other governments provide funding and tax relief to private schools. If the ministry is concerned about the proliferation of private schools, the solution is simple: Improve public schools.
Dana Clairmont lives in Phnom Penh