Woeful test results mark turning point for education in Cambodia

November 20th, 2014 , UCA News

For Cambodia, there is no disguising how dreadful the results of this year’s high school graduation exams were: three in four students of the some 90,000 who sat their finals in August failed, and just 11 students scored an A grade.

The reason for the high failure rate was simple: for the first time in years, authorities enforced a strict “no cheating” policy. In prior years, many students purchased papers from teachers and vendors ahead of time, brought cheat sheets and mobile phones into exams, or simply paid someone else to take the test for them. …

What the ministry has identified constitutes wholesale reform of education. Among the issues targeted: improving teacher training and the quality of education; boosting young people’s skills — particularly in mathematics, science, critical thinking and problem solving; tackling the management of finances; and improving the governance of schools.

All that costs money in a system that, by any measure, is underfunded. Yet that too is starting to change. The draft budget for 2015 allocates nearly US$400 million for education, a $60 million increase; Chuon Naron said the bulk of that increase would go towards boosting teachers’ salaries. …

Chuon Naron prefers another measure: the amount spent on education relative to total expenditure. On that score, he said, Cambodia fares better: 16.4 percent this year rising to 17.3 percent next year. The goal is 20 percent. …

Robert Carmichael
http://www.ucanews.com/news/woeful-test-results-mark-turning-point-for-education-in-cambodia/72443

Education funds to get bump

November 11th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The proposed 2015 education budget is inching upwards from last year’s funding, however it still falls short of internationally recommended minimums.

Education is slated to take up a $396 million chunk of the $3.75 billion draft budget, which has yet to be approved by the National Assembly, according to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.

Despite a $61 million bump from 2014, Cambodia’s 2015 education expenditure will still lag behind its ASEAN neighbours. …

Laignee Barron and Taing Vida
http://phnompenhpost.com/national/education-funds-get-bump

For failed high school students, an array of options awaits

November 5th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

As about 60 percent of the tens of thousands of students who took the national high school exam—some twice—this year cope with failure, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said this week the dismal grades would only have a “minor impact” on university admissions and jobseekers. …

George Styllis and Kang Sothear
http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/for-failed-high-school-students-an-array-of-options-awaits-71790/

Failed students weigh future

November 4th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

As the new public school year gets under way this week, grade 12 students reeling from en masse failure at the national exam have a choice to make: repeat their grade or forfeit their diploma. …

In total, just 33,997 test-sitters, or 40.6 per cent of the high school graduate hopefuls, managed to pass the high-stakes national exam in one of the two rounds. The remaining 55,000-plus candidates, or the majority of this year’s diploma seekers, flunked the two-day exam and are now ineligible for bachelor’s degree programs and face limited employment opportunities. …

Laignee Barron and Sen David
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/failed-students-weigh-future

Protest leader accuses Education System linked to Politics

November 2nd, 2014 , The Cambodia Herald

Though the Ministry of Education is reforming its system which resulted in only 40 percents of the high school students across the country passed the exam this year, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association Mr. Rong Chhun said that Cambodia education system is linked to politics. …

The Cambodia Herald News Staff
http://www.thecambodiaherald.com/cambodia/protest-leader-accuses-education-system-linked-to-politics-7593

Nearly 18 pct of applicants pass 2nd high school graduation exam in Cambodia this year

October 31st, 2014 , Xinhuanet News

The Cambodian education ministry announced Friday that 10,871 applicants, or 17.94 percent, of the total 60,611 candidates passed the second and final high school graduation exam for 2014. …

The ministry organized the second test after only 25.72 percent of the total 89,937 high school students passed the first exam in August following strict measures to eliminate bribery and cheating during the exam. …

Xinhuanet News Staff
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/culture/2014-10/31/c_133757216.htm

Ministry facing teacher shortage

October 29th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Less than a week away from the start of the new school year, the government is short on teachers.

Every year, the government struggles to recruit enough instructors to keep pace with enrollment rates and replace those who have retired, left teaching or passed away. The shortage is particularly acute at the primary school level, where the average student-to-teacher ratio ranks worse than any country outside of Africa.

This year, just 4,739 new recruits are slated to join the public school ranks, shy of both the Education Ministry’s goals and international standards.​ …

Laignee Barron and Pech Sotheary
http://phnompenhpost.com/national/ministry-facing-teacher-shortage

Chinese book fair attracts scores of Cambodian students

October 28th, 2014 , Xinhuanet News

Throngs of Cambodian students from various Chinese schools flocked to see the fifth edition of a Chinese book fair on Monday, seeking reading books which are helpful to their studies.​

Held at the Peace Book Center in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, the three-day event exhibited more than 2,300 Chinese- language books, covering a wide range of themes, including Chinese literature, history, economy, culture, health, agriculture, and technology. …

Xinhuanet News Staff
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/culture/2014-10/28/c_133748039.htm

No background checks on exam monitors: ACU

October 20th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

None of the more than 5,000 independent observers recruited for this year’s national exams had background checks or their identity verified before they were allowed into testing centres, an official said yesterday.

During this year’s newly reformed and cleaned-up grade 12 exam, the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) was asked to mobilise its own armed officers, as well thousands of volunteer observers to help patrol the exam sites. For the first round of the two-day test in August, more than 2,000 volunteer observers joined the ranks. At the second iteration of the high-stakes, diploma-qualifying test last week, more than 3,200 observers signed on to help. …

Pech Sotheary and Laignee Barron
http://phnompenhpost.com/national/no-background-checks-exam-monitors-acu

Poll shows fighting corruption drives support for education reform in Cambodia

October 15th, 2014 , Asian Correspondent

Earlier this week, Cambodia’s Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS) held a second high school exam to provide a second chance for the over 70 percent of 93,000 high school students who failed to pass the first annual national high school exam, held in early August. The passing rate in the first exam – down a staggering 25.7 percent from last year’s passing rate of nearly 87 percent – is one of the first tangible results of the Ministry’s recent education reform efforts. While the standard of the second exam has been questioned, MoEYS claimed that this week’s exam remained as strict as the first. …

To gauge public opinion on the Ministry’s decision, The Asia Foundation conducted a snap poll from September 13-19 that featured face-to-face interviews with 500 respondents from five urban and rural provinces: Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kratie, Koh Kong, and Siem Reap. Of the respondents, 400 were 15- to 65-years old and randomly selected from the general population, and 100 were high school students from grades 10, 11, and 12. The data collection teams used Google’s Open Data Kit, a smart phone technology that aggregates data on a cloud-based server. ODK allows smart phone users to download a questionnaire from a cloud-based server. Data stored on the phone is then transferred to the server once connected to the internet. …

Silas Everett and Menghun Kaing
http://asiafoundation.org/in-asia/2014/10/15/poll-shows-fighting-corruption-drives-support-for-education-reform-in-cambodia/

Poll shows wide support for heavily monitored exams

October 9th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Most Cambodians support the Ministry of Education’s crusade to end corruption on the grade 12 national exam, results from a “snap poll” by the Asia Foundation showed yesterday.

The survey polled 500 respondents, including 100 current high school students, and 96 per cent were overwhelmingly in favor of the increased monitoring at this year’s exam. …

Laignee Barron
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/poll-shows-wide-support-heavily-monitored-exams

Ministry simplifies teacher salary payments

September 11th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Teachers will receive their base salaries and additional benefits in a single package starting later this month, in an effort to simplify the payment process and avoid confusion, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said Wednesday.

Health, risk and rural bonuses will all be folded into teachers’ base salaries, Mr. Chuon Naron said, declining to say exactly when the new policy will take effect. …

Eang Mengleng
http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/ministry-simplifies-teacher-salary-payments-67860/

Civil society, tech team up

September 9th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

With security footage of elephants, clouded leopards and other wildlife caught on hidden cameras in Cambodia’s Eastern Plains flashing on a TV screen, Toby Eastoe of Conservation International noted that their cameras also catch other activity. …

Presenters ranging from anti-corruption advocates to health service workers exhibited technology they are using or developing in their efforts. …

Sean Teehan
http://phnompenhpost.com/national/civil-society-tech-team