Steep Enrollment Drop Seen In City’s Primary Schools

The number of children registered to study in Phnom Penh’s primary schools in the academic year 2002-2003 is down as much as 40 percent compared to last year’s figures, school authorities say. Education officials attribute the decline to squatter-relocation programs and greater use of contraception among city families.

Prampi Makara, Daun Penh, Tuol Kok and Chamkar Mon districts have all recorded a drop in primary school registration this term,  said Chea Cheaph, deputy director of Phnom Penh’s Mun­icipal Education Depart­ment. A national picture is not yet available, he added, as the annual re­port on national enrollment has been delayed due to flooding, which has prevented school registration in some districts.

Chea Cheaph said the change is due to large numbers of the city’s squatters being relocated  outside the city this year as part of the city’s municipal development projects.

“Because of the resettlement pro­­grams, especially where squat­ter areas were burned down, many families have moved to new land outside Phnom Penh,” Chea Cheaph said.

Khin Sophan, vice principal of Sothearos Primary School, said this year’s registration figure of 446 students is a distinct drop from recent years. He said the school expected to enroll around 800 children in 15 classes, each containing about 50 students. Instead, some teachers are having to share students. Class­rooms that in previous years held 50 pupils now have 30 or 35 children, Khim Sophan said.

Uy Thue Vong, vice principal of Preah Puthi Primary School in Phnom Penh, said he had expected to welcome 400 new students this academic year, but so far has only registered 230. “If we compare the figures to last year’s, it is a 40 percent de­crease,” he said. “We don’t know the reason, but we have observed that the number of children per family has gone down in recent years because of birth spacing pills,” he added.


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