More Students Dropping Out Due to Poverty

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.


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