Schools take funding plan to the bank

April 9th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Like mob deals and black market trades, the Cambodian school budget is dealt in suitcases of cash.

Four times a year, the school operating budget is dispersed in stacks of cash transferred from the central bank to the Ministry of Education, eventually ending up with the school principals who fetch the bills from district education offices.

But the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Ministry of Education are trying to change the system with bank accounts, one for every school. …

Laignee Barron and Chhay Channyda

Education Ministry to delegate junior high exam to schools

April 8th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Education Ministry officials on Monday confirmed that the ministry would no longer organize or oversee the junior high school exam, delegating the process to individual schools.

As part of Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron’s reform of the graft-riddled education system, his ministry will forgo coordination of the grade 9 exam, saving money that will be channeled toward efforts to safeguard the grade 12 national exam. …

Kuch Naren and Matt Blomberg

Ministry, ACU continue campaign for clean high school exam

April 3rd, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The Education Ministry’s crusade to clean up the national high school exam continued Wednesday, with the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) releasing a statement inviting concerned parties to monitor exams in August and warning that cheats would be failed and effectively banned from sitting again for two years.

The ACU cited previously unenforced provisions against cheating on the exam from a 2011 ministerial directive and pledged, together with the Education Ministry, to punish any students found to be involved in collecting money for bribes or distributing cheat sheets.

“Any contestant who acts as a mastermind in collecting money or advising other contestants to collect money or give money to proctors must be automatically failed and banned for another year,” the ACU statement says.

Banned students would be able to again take the exam, which is held once a year, two years after an offense. …

The Education Ministry and ACU also called for NGO representatives and concerned individuals to apply as volunteer monitors at exams, where they would have the responsibility of identifying cheats —a role usually played by teachers and school administrators.

Ouk Chhayavy, deputy director of the 10,000-strong Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), said Wednesday that the government’s efforts to bring accountability to high schools amounted to a charade. …

Kuch Naren and Matt Blomberg

Moratorium on new universities

April 1st, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The Ministry of Education has vowed to shift its focus from the quantity of the country’s universities to their quality by instituting a moratorium on the approval of new institutions, officials said yesterday.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said that with more than 100 universities already established nationwide, he plans to temporarily put a stop to the creation of any more. …

Chhay Channyda

Boxes for donations, not bribes: minister

March 28th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The minister of education proposed yesterday that donation boxes for teachers be installed in schools across the country, but stressed their aim would be to diminish rather than grow a culture of bribery in the system.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron presented the idea for the “equity foundation boxes” during the capital’s first forum between teachers, parents and students at Hun Sen Bun Rany High School. …

Chhay Channyda

Education official says don’t jail exam cheats

March 28th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

A senior Education Ministry official on Thursday said that jailing students caught cheating, as threatened by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on Tuesday, was the wrong approach to cleaning up the national high school exam.

Instead, he called for a budget increase to offset losses that teachers will incur if they cease taking bribes.

“Most students are under 18, so it is not appropriate to send them to jail, but this message [from the ACU] may convince some to stop the cheating,” said Ros Salin, cabinet chief at the Ministry of Education. …

Matt Blomberg and Sek Odom

ACU Threatens Jail for Students Caught Cheating

March 26th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) will join with the Ministry of Education this year to curb cheating during national-level high school and junior high exams, according to ACU chairman Om Yentieng.

In order to eliminate old habits of purchasing answer sheets and paying bribes to exam monitors, Mr. Yentieng promised that teachers and students caught cheating would be sent to court and imprisoned if they were found guilty.

“The anti-corruption education for secondary school from grade 10 to grade 12 is a beginning point for students’ behavior change for avoiding to commit immorality,” Mr. Yentieng said Tuesday during a training course on eliminating corruption from schools. …

Kuch Naren

New policy to combat corruption in schools

March 25th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The Education Ministry will reconfigure how it ranks high school graduates seeking placement at state universities as part of its campaign to promote accountability in the school system, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron announced on Friday.

Delivering closing remarks at the Education Ministry’s annual meeting, Mr. Chuon Naron said that end-of-term grades for graduating seniors would no longer be combined with national exam scores in deciding which students get scholarships to state-run universities. …

Kuch Naren and Emily Wilkins

ACU tackles exam cheats

March 24th, 2014

Cheating on national grade nine and 12 exams – which has been rampant in the past – just got harder.

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) announced yesterday that it will enlist the services of independent NGOs, civil society groups and private companies to monitor the more than 100,000 test-takers this year tackling their last hurdle before attaining a lower-secondary school or upper-secondary school diploma. …


Chhay Channyda and Laignee Barron

Silent killer taking toll

March 19th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Villagers emerge from the shade of their homes and gingerly roll up their sleeves, turning their palms upwards to reveal skin braided with dark lesions, ulcers and decaying tissue. They point to houses up and down the street where people have died of symptoms like theirs.

Arsenic, an invisible, odourless poison, has haunted this village in Kandal’s Koh Thom district. Most have been diagnosed with arsenic poisoning, and many have lost children or parents to it. …

Starting in the 1980s, a UNICEF-led safe-water program pioneered Cambodia’s vast network of community tube wells, installing pumps as an easy and inexpensive alternative to bacteria-infested surface water. An independent report commissioned by UNICEF in 2006, however, found that such tube wells installed in arsenic-affected areas were contaminated. …

Thirty-five per cent of more than 15,000 wells sampled in Kandal contained arsenic exceeding the national limit of 0.05 milligrams per litre, and as many as 54 per cent measured above the WHO standard of 0.01 milligrams per litre. …

Laignee Barron

National testing could widen

March 11th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia may soon have new standardised exams to hold its students, teachers and education system accountable.

“Everyone agrees that the improved enrolment rates in primary school is an accomplishment; at the same time, everyone also calls for quality-control improvement … [which] means better testing,” said Jan Noorlander, program coordinator at CARE Cambodia.

Now, Cambodia lacks the national standardised-test frenzy endemic in other Asia-Pacific countries like Korea, Japan and Singapore. Learning outcomes are measured by teacher-created monthly tests and end-of-semester exams, a process that stakeholders say has little to no oversight and is riddled with cheating, discrimination and inconsistencies.

National, ministry-issued exams take place only in grades 9 and 12, when students can attain diplomas for lower and upper secondary school completion. …

Laignee Barron

Britain eyes 5 bln USD trade volume with Cambodia by 2020: envoy

March 6th, 2014 , Global Times

British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy David Puttnam said Thursday that the country looked to boost bilateral trade volume with Cambodia to $5 billion by 2020.

“The bilateral trade between the UK and Cambodia reached $1 billion last year and we expect the trade volume will hit $5 billion by 2020,” he told reporters after a luncheon meeting with British businesspeople in Cambodia. …

Britain is the fourth largest investor in Cambodia. According to the report of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Cambodia had received Britain’s promised investment of $2.4 billion in the last two decades. …

Global Times

UNESCO says quality of education remains major concern for Cambodia

March 6th, 2014 , Xinhuanet News

The quality of education is still a big concern for Cambodia and the country needs to set a more effective strategy to enhance teaching conditions and quality of education for all learners, Anne Lemaistre, UNESCO representative in Cambodia, said Thursday. “I would like to commend the Cambodian Ministry of Education for making a great level of success in terms of enrollment to various education levels, as well as internal efficiency at primary level,”she said at the launching of the 2013/14 UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report. “However, quality of education remains a big concern towards achieving Universal Primary Education goal due to several factors: quality teacher is one of them,”she said. …

With a population of 14.8 million, Cambodia currently has 6,910 primary schools, 1,214 secondary schools, 433 high schools and 101 higher education institutions, according to the Ministry of Education.

Xinhuanet News Staff

US University Prepares for Forum on Cambodian ‘Crossroads’

March 5th, 2014 , VOA Khmer

Ohio University is poised to hold its sixth annual Khmer Studies Forum, beginning later this month.

Topics for discussion at the three-day conference include Cambodia’s current political climate, the Khmer Rouge tribunal, and the country’s art, media and culture.​ …

The forum will be held at the university from March 14 to March 16. …

Sok Khemara

British PM’s trade envoy to visit Cambodia to boost trade, investment ties

March 3rd, 2014 , Xinhuanet News

British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy Lord Puttnam will visit Cambodia from March 4 to 7 to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relations, according to a press statement from the British Embassy here on Monday. …

During his visit, Lord Puttnam will call on Prime Minister Hun Sen, Education Minister Hang Choun Naron, and Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol, to discuss business and education opportunities and challenges. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

Stability, growth require job creation

February 28th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Cambodia is entering a new phase of economic growth in which the development of a skilled workforce will be critical to social stability and regional competitiveness, government officials and economists said Thursday at the 2014 Cambodia Outlook Conference.

Delivering the keynote speech at the conference, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that deep administrative reforms and an increased focus on education would be crucial to the country’s economic progress.

“Reform is a necessary and urgent task that has to be continued for both the present and future,” Mr. Hun Sen said. …

“The improvement of education quality is a necessary task which must be done and is a crucial element for creating the competitiveness of Cambodian people in the future,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

“Cambodia lacks skilled workers…at both the low and middle level,” he continued. “One main priority for the government in the next five years is to deal with the problems regarding the inconsistency or the professional gaps in what industry and business requires.” …

Vongsey Vissoth, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said that failure by the government to meet the employment needs of an expanding workforce would have a destabilizing effect on the country. …

“Jobs for youth is a major priority,” Mr. Vissoth said. “If we don’t do it, it will…become a social and political problem.”

“It is easy for [youth] to be attracted by certain points of ideology,” he added.

Jayant Mennon, a senior Southeast Asia economist for the Asian Development Bank, said that the government’s anti-corruption efforts were inextricably linked to efforts to create better jobs. …

During a panel discussion on improving the skills of the workforce, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron outlined the various ways that the education system was failing to equip students for a global workforce.

While the country has reached almost universal enrollment in primary schools, only 27 percent of students are enrolled at the upper secondary level, Mr. Chuon Naron said. …

Martin McCarthy, the managing director of Total Cambodia, said that with so many university students receiving degrees in the fields of management and finance, it was nearly impossible to find qualified staff to work in the oil industry.

“2.5 percent of graduates coming out as engineers is horribly insufficient,” he said, adding that the poor quality of graduates required large investment in training new staff. …

Colin Meyn and Hul Reaksmey

Education system out of its depth

February 25th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

When Sim Sok Toeur, 32, returned from study in Australia last April, he did so with a vision for Phnom Penh’s skyline. …

For Sok Toeur, a scholarship to study overseas granted him a better quality of education than was possible in Cambodia – even though the country has more than 100 universities, about 40 of which are public. …

More young people than ever are flocking to Cambodia’s universities upon leaving school. But students seeking better education elsewhere are reminders of the gulf that exists between the Kingdom’s institutes and those abroad.

By Prime Minister Hun Sen’s own admission, this gap relates to the quality and relevance of degrees taught here, and is resulting in the system not producing the type of graduates required to meet the Kingdom’s needs. …

A comparison of the countries made in 2010 showed Cambodia spent the equivalent of 2.6 per cent of its GDP on education, below Laos (2.8 per cent), Thailand (3.8 per cent) and Vietnam (6.3 per cent). Most Western countries fall between 5.5 and 6.4 per cent. …

Maria Wirth

Gender gains lacking: report

February 25th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian women are bumping up against a steadfast glass ceiling, according to an annual report by the Cambodian National Council for Women.

The report, released yesterday, tracks what the government has done to execute the prime minister’s 16 recommendations regarding women’s access to and engagement in civil society.

In education and politics, the council found women’s involvement still lags behind that of their male counterparts. …

Cambodia’s UN Millennium Development Goals aim for women to make up 25 per cent of lawmakers at the commune level and 30 per cent at the national level by the year 2015. …

Chhay Channyda and Laignee Barron

Students may monitor textbook delivery

February 22nd, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Transparency International (T.I.) Cambodia and education NGOs on Friday held a conference titled “Promoting Integrity to Strengthen the Quality of Education in Cambodia,” where ideas were put forward on stamping out corruption in schools. …

“We need to mobilize the students themselves in tracking the delivery of the textbooks,” said Preap Kol, T.I. executive director.

Mr. Kol explained that in the Philippines, the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, a regional NGO which uncovered the textbook pilfering scam late last year, had implemented a system where students reported through an online platform on the quality of their education, from the delivery of textbooks to the cleanliness of bathrooms.

“We suggest a similar system to this. It really does not cost anything and as long as the ministry provides accurate information about how many textbooks are printed and where they are supposed to be delivered, the students could do the rest,” Mr. Kol said. “The government is under growing pressure to make sure that education is free of corruption and of a high quality, and this is a relatively simple first step.”

Newly appointed Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron has begun to implement a number of reforms, and has made the textbooks scandal a priority. …

Matt Blomberg and Sek Odom

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