Children are the cornerstone of Cambodia’s development
“The education sector plays an important role in the national development. The children, youth and adults will receive education and lifelong learning services with high quality, which are relevant and responsive to the labor market demand.” – Dr. Hang Choun Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport
The Royal Cambodian Government envisions to build a peaceful, politically stable and prosperous nation, and achieve long-term economic growth, by protecting its environment, preserving Cambodian culture and obtaining an overall better international reputation.
This future Cambodian society will have a reduced poverty rate and a well-educated and culturally advanced population, with a good standard of living.
Cambodia endeavors to become a sustainable country, which by the end of 2030 will have attained the status of an upper middle-income country and by the end of 2050, that of a high-income one. In order to achieve these objectives, the Royal Government set out to accomplish four strategic goals:
- ensuring an average annual economic growth of 7%;
- creating more jobs for its citizens, especially its youth;
- achieving more than 1% reduction in poverty incidence annually;
- further strengthening institutional capacity and governance at both national and regional levels.
In order for the Cambodian government to achieve its great growth ambitions, it needs to put an emphasis on its current population. Therefore, the following main development strategies underline the government’s human resource perspective:
1) having skilled and productive individuals that meet market demands and add value to it;
2) building more educational and vocational training institutions and developing regulatory frameworks for them;
3) encouraging private sector participation;
4) strengthening the quality of education and promoting scientific research, technological development and innovation.
An important area to take notice of in Cambodia’s development strategy is represented by its emphasis on education, which has become an ever-increasing area of interest for many countries. The main point is to ensure that adults, adolescents and children will benefit from high quality education services and comprehensive life-long learning services, which suit labor market demands.
With the intent of making the most of its demographics, an increased focus on providing opportunities and equal access to technical and specialized skills will be offered to all of its citizens.
”In order to realize in full, the benefits of Cambodia’s demographic dividend there has to be a focus on building skills for learning and providing opportunities for access to technical and specialized skills for all.” – Dr. Hang Choun Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport
Furthermore, Cambodia wishes to enhance the bond between national and educational development policies and as a result, The Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018 emerged, which underlines the relationship between educational objectives, programs and strategic frameworks with available human and financial resources.
The Cambodian Government has been focusing on education development for quite a few years. The former Education Strategic Plan – ESP 2009-2013, which was released by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport – MoEYS prior to this one, had 3 strategic policy areas:
- Policy 1: Ensuring equitable access to education services
- Policy 2: Improving the quality and efficiency of educational services
- Policy 3: Institutional and capacity development for teachers and education staff, in order to further decentralize the system
The results of the Education Strategic Plan 2009-2013 are outlined below:
The ESP 2014-2018 mainly focuses on a child’s early education, improving his access to secondary, vocational and technical education. Regarding any particular group, the ESP tries to take care of all children, from all corners of the kingdom.
As such, this strategy wraps around seven important pillars: Early Childhood Education, Primary Education, Secondary and Technical Education, Higher Education, Non-Formal Education, Youth Development and Physical Education and Sport.
The 2014-2018 ESP follows its predecessor’s pillars, sharing three main policy areas:
First policy: Ensuring equitable access to education services
The first policy underlines the idea that children should have access to all kinds of early childhood education services, so that they can effectively continue their primary learning cycle. Alternatives are also taken into consideration for those who are unable to access formal education.
The ESP’s aim is not only to increase youth access to education, but also to ensure that after the 12-year learning cycle, they have a practical knowledge base, accompanied by solid reasoning and logic skills, in order to build a sustainable future.
Second policy: Enhancing the quality and relevance of learning
The second policy highlights the fact that a practical and pragmatic learning experience will enable children to have a more effective contribution to the country’s development later on as they grow in age.
Also, something noteworthy is that designing a performance-based education framework, which ensures that the learning programs are of high quality, must also include outcome standards, monitoring and reporting methods, in order to check the whole country’s progress regarding the established socio-economic goals.
Third policy: Ensuring effective leadership and management of education staff at all levels
The third main policy suggests providing educational services in a flexible and effective manner, allowing managers of public educational institutions to cope with the emerging needs of society and children alike.
From the national and regional points of view, all educational institutions should focus on results, so as to offer effective and accurate feedback and adjustment mechanisms.
The strategic framework of the Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018 furthers enhances the implementation and management of previous improvements, by offering children a stable, transparent and professional education system. In order to strengthen the performance of the educational sector, all programs will integrate the following aspects:
- Creating a link with the National Program for Subnational Democratic Development – NPSNDD, and contributing to the process of installing unified subnational administrations – SNAs, under the guidance of the National Committee for Democratic Development.
- Preparing a mechanism of internal and external institutional operational arrangements and straightforward vertical and horizontal management, reflecting the sub-sector focus and the objectives of the Ministry’s policy on the decentralization reform.
- Actively adhering to the framework of result-based planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation
- Maintaining a strong focus on rights and equity
- Providing a holistic, high-quality accountability framework that will include student learning assessments, which will be connected with regional and international assessments, curriculum and learning materials, improving teaching-related skills, managing facilities and service standards
- Improving financial sustainability by building on needs-based projections
- Mobilizing all stakeholders and development partners
The Cambodian Government has high hopes for the education of its children and youths, as they represent Cambodia’s future. A well prepared and educated child will ensure that, as he grows up, he will have more opportunities for self-development and will also contribute to the country’s overall growth.