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

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

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

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

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

Education minister called to National Assembly

September 8th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

For the first time since opposition CNRP lawmakers joined the National Assembly last month, they have called a government minister to answer questions before parliament, according to officials from the government and opposition.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron will attend a session of parliament on September 17 to answer questions about his sweeping reforms of the school system, according to his cabinet chief, Ros Salin. …

Hay Pisey

Report calls for foreign teacher trainers, higher salaries

August 27th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Cambodia must significantly increase teachers’ salaries and import the best teacher trainers from abroad in order to combat a continuously widening gap between the skills employers are looking for and those the country’s graduates are able to provide, a new report says.

Facing the worst student-teacher ratio in the world outside of Africa, Cambodia needs more and better-qualified teachers to overcome both low enrollment and poor education in the country, says Srinivasa Madhur, research director at the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, in a report released by the organization Tuesday. …

Zsombor Peter

Campaign promotes free textbooks for students

August 26th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Two NGOs on Monday launched an online campaign to galvanize public support for providing students with free textbooks after a survey found that 85 percent of high-school pupils lack the necessary books for their studies.

The Khmer Institute for National Development (KIND) and the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) on Monday commenced a 30-day Facebook drive to draw attention to the need for study aids and to lobby the government to increase the Ministry of Education’s budget for textbooks.

In a joint press release to announce the campaign, KIND and ANSA-EAP said they surveyed nearly 500 pupils last year at 33 high schools in Phnom Penh and three provinces—Kompong Cham, Kompong Speu and Kampot—and found that 85 percent of the students did not have the textbooks they needed to properly prepare for their exams. …

Khy Sovuthy

Hun Sen announces raises for teachers, nurses

August 22nd, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced a three-stage plan to raise the salaries of civil servants working under the Education and Health ministries, with the first increase to come in September.

Speaking to graduating students at Beltei University in Phnom Penh, Mr. Hun Sen said that the minimum monthly wage for teachers would be raised from about $105 to about $138 by April next year. …

Khy Sovuthy

Flooding delays school term across country

August 18th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The start of the school year has been delayed for a month due to flooding that has affected many of the country’s schools this month, the Ministry of Education said Sunday.

Ros Salin, spokesman and cabinet chief for the ministry, said that the school year will begin on November 1 rather than October 1 as originally planned. …

Ouch Sony