Despite the Ministry of Education’s official policy of allowing free registration from primary to secondary school, the number of students abandoning their studies is increasing due to poverty and the cost of making informal payments to teachers, a teachers’ union claimed Monday.
According to the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, some 35 percent of students discontinued their studies last year, an increase of 5 percent from 2003, the association’s President Rong Chhun said.
“Thirty-five out of 100 students abandoned school last year, particularly students studying at secondary school because [they] are encouraged to earn money to support the family…. Illegal payment to teachers is also a main cause of abandoning education,” he said, citing a new report compiled by the association.
Secondary school students are often asked to pay between $0.50 to $0.75 a day to their teachers, a practice that has forced some parents to take their children out of school, Rong Chhun said.
He added that a lack of school buildings and teachers in remote areas has worsened the situation.
Ministry of Education Undersecretary of State Chea Se said the ministry has not conducted any surveys dealing with students who discontinue their schooling, but he acknowledged that students do drop out of school each year.
“Both towns and remote areas lack school buildings. Students in town areas are studying in crowded [conditions]…with more than 100 students studying in only one class. It’s a big concern,” he said.
Education officials said Thursday that the World Bank has released $20 million in grant aid.
The Bank has offered another $8 million in loans to be used for improving education and building schools in the country, they added.
“It is not a loan, but a grant to provide scholarship, teachers’ training…and the $8 million loan will be used for constructing school buildings,” said Nat Bunroeun, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Education.