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Teaching/ learning in Primary and Secondary Education in Kampong Cham ,Cambodia.

Problem analysis
The project
Problem analysis
Strategy, Feasibility
About Multigrade Teaching
Guide for organizing a Multigrade Teaching workshop.

Some quantitative indicators such as high dropouts, high repetition rates, low enrolment, suggests that the current educational system is not appropriate and efficient. There are significant inequities in the representation of females in the education system, especially in the higher primary school grades and on secondary level and there are wide disparities between urban and rural areas in access and quality of basic education services. The recruitment and retention of trained teachers for schools in remote areas remains a critical problem. Low salaries and little or no incentives have major consequences on the teacher’s motivation, and teaching aids and resources are lacking. Because most teachers are reluctant to teach in remote areas, teachers with limited knowledge and capacity are employed. This has a serious outcome on the quality of education, and the subsequently on students’ morale. Teachers are also not efficiently trained and need to get used to more suitable teaching methodologies, adapted to the current needs (high student/teacher ratios, double shifts, student-centred approach, multi-grade teaching…)

The curriculum, currently under revision, is lacking a link to real life and doesn’t prepare the students to the labour market. Parents in rural areas are not aware of the need and advantage for education for their children, especially secondary education, because the education system doesn’t prepare them enough to improve their working ability. In contrast, the costs of education are high and the parents don’t have the children to help them on the land during their studies. The curriculum is also difficult to implement in the teacher’s timetable and practise is insufficient, also due to lacking teaching materials. The new curriculum should envisage these problems and encourage the parents to send their children to school.

The current educational reform process incorporates specific partnership arrangements and principles between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MOEYS) and its educational partners and donors. A long term ‘Education For All’ plan is integrated together with the current Education Strategic Plan (ESP) and Educational Sector Support Program (ESSP), formulated by the government in 2001, with plans and programs covering the period 2001/2006. The strategies and programs are based on a sector-wide approach to education reform whereby strategies, programs and financing (Priority Action Plan-PAP) are adjusted on an annual basis taking account of annual impact surveys and the findings of a joint annual ESSP review by government, donors and NGOs.

The government of Cambodia is in need for help and support of international donors to improve the educational system, so that the country can further develop socially and economically and compete with neighbouring countries. The government would like to reach their goals to assure equitable access to quality basic education, enabling growing lower secondary education opportunities and strengthening capacity building for the decentralisation of education services. Improved quality education, according to the reform plans includes:

    • Reducing class sizes
    • Reducing reliance on double-shifts
    • Increasing instructional time
    • In-classroom monitoring of essential learning competencies, linked to ongoing remediation
    • Providing adequate funds to ensure all teachers develop professionally
    • Encouraging child-friendly learning environments
    • Building further on Cambodia’s experience with school clusters to ensure that all teachers benefit through regular professional interactions
    • Regular educational audits and analyses of children’s learning achievements

Primary Education

Access and Equity Considerations. The Government has achieved significant expansion of primary education opportunities in the past decade, with enrolment growing from 1.3 million in 1992 to around 2.2 million in 1999. This represents an enrolment growth of around 70% over the period. At the same time, the number of schools has grown from around 4500 in 1992 to 5274 in 1999. This demonstrates the sustained demand for primary education in Cambodia.

There are also significant gender disparities in access, directly linked to urban/rural location. The overall GER for girls is 84%. There are significant disparities between urban areas (girls GER 94%) rural areas (girls GER 88%) and remote areas (girls GER 46%). There are also significant variations due to a number of factors, including late age of entry, high repetition rates and early dropout. In particular, a noticeable trend is the decline in girls enrolment across primary grades 1 – 6, where the girls share falls from 47% to 33%.

A number of factors contribute to somewhat disappointing overall enrolment and significant access inequities. A key constraint is the high level of repetition, particularly in the earlier grades 1 and 2. For example, in 1998 the overall repetition rates were 41% and 25% in the first two grades, falling to around 4 – 8% in grades 5 – 6. Particularly for girls, the late entry into primary school is a severe constraint on continued participation. For example, in 1999 the net intake rate was only 62%, meaning that roughly 38 children out of every 100 are not enrolling at the official school age of six. In the remote areas, the net intake falls as low as 34%. This has significant impact on girls, who traditionally leave school at the age of puberty.

Improved Education Quality and Effectiveness. MoEYS has not set minimum learning standards for primary education and nationally set grade-referenced achievement tests are not in place. Consequently it is difficult to reliably assess the quality and effectiveness of primary education. However a proxy indicator is the progression rate from grade 4, based on teacher-made and marked tests (EFA Assessment, 2000). The overall trend is slightly upwards where in 1996/7, 70% passed these tests compared to 72% in 1997. There are some urban/rural variations. In 1998, urban school pass rates were 78% compared to 65% in rural areas. A striking feature is that in 1998, male/female pass rates were equal at around 72% compared to a 10% difference in favour of males in 1997. Having said this, caution is necessary over the interpretation of these figures. It is well recognised that that a number of factors contribute to school/teachers decisions on student progression.

Other indicators of quality and effectiveness are not encouraging. For example, in 1998 the survival rate of the age cohort reaching grade 5 (grade 6 was only introduced in 1996) was only 45%. Dropout rates in 1997/8 ranged between 10% and 16%. There were also significant variations in overall dropout rates between urban and rural areas : urban 9%, rural 15% and remote 26.2%. These indicators may reflect dissatisfaction amongst parents and students of the value of continued primary education.

The allocation of instructional hours in the primary curriculum is somewhat inconsistent with the broad objectives of primary education, which are to improve literacy, numeracy and social and scientific competences.


Teachers training

Assuring Equitable Access. Current teacher education provision consists of 18 primary teacher-training colleges (PTTCs), 6 regional teacher-training colleges (RTTCs), which train grade 7 – 9 teachers and a post-graduate program at the Faculty of Pedagogy, which provides upper secondary school teachers.

There are some gender inequities with the proportion of females being PTTCs (43% of enrolment), RTTCs (39%) and the Faculty of Pedagogy much lower at 18% of total. In geographical terms, coverage is reasonably equitable. There are 18 PTTCs in 18 provinces, 5 of the six RTTCs are located in densely populated provinces close to Phnom Penh. The faculty is located in Phnom Penh.

Improving Quality and Efficiency. Progression rates in the training colleges are high. Combined repetition and dropout rates are reasonably low, averaging around 4% in 1999. Student performance assessment is generally well regulated and students have opportunities to re-sit examinations.

One concern is the highly academic nature of the teacher-training curriculum. A large proportion of time is spent on academic upgrading as opposed to teaching methodology and in-school teaching practice.

The current curriculum and output from the PTTCs is not particularly responsive to emerging requirements. The PTTC program does not include opportunities for teaching or managing multi grade or ethnic minority classes.

The teacher training system has experienced difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified staff, due to the low salary in PTTCs. PTTC trainers are expected to teach 14 hours per week, plus 8 hours paid overtime. In addition, with donor support, the majority of TTC staff receives an incentive of US$ 15 per month, which constitutes around 50% of Government-paid salary/overtime.

Strengthening Institutional Arrangements. MOEYS strategy is to gradually grant a higher degree of operational autonomy to the PTTCs. As part of this program, there is currently donor support for PTTC operational budget provision and management by institutional heads. MOEYS strategy was to incorporate this program into the Government's own recurrent budget (as part of the PAP initiative) in 2001. Unfortunately, MOEYS budget constraints have not made this possible.

In-Service Teacher Training. Another strategy for improving the responsiveness to local circumstances and changing demands of the education system is to make use of PTTCs for in-service training, especially during the vacation when colleges are vacated and teachers available. Up until the mid/late nineties, PTTCs were used for this purpose, including for foreign language training. Currently in-service provision is focused on the important provision of textbook orientation programs for the new textbooks and curriculum. Nevertheless, there is significant scope for expansion of a well-planned and resourced in-service program, even using local secondary schools as a strategy for responding quickly and efficiently to changing education service demands.


Multigrade Teaching project Cambodia