Both basic education and higher education were expanded
during the 1960s. with teacher colleges and higher technical
education. The regime of the Red Khmer was also catastrophic
for education. The vast majority of schools were destroyed
and teachers at all levels disappeared, many probably
killed. Around 1980, the vast majority of young people
lacked basic education and illiteracy was just over 40%. The
education system has to be built up from almost nothing and
even in the early 1990s, struggles were reached to reach the
1960s standard. Subsequently, the expansion has been more
At the end of the 1990s, undergraduate education included
a six-year primary school and then a three-year lower
secondary school. The academic year 2008-09 began close to
90% of the six-year-olds at school, but especially in the
poor rural areas of the Northeast many quit after a few
years as parents need them at home as a labor force. In the
lower secondary school, just under a third of the age group
started and in the higher (corresponding high school) 16%. Check topschoolsintheusa for test centers of ACT, SAT, and GRE as well high schools in the country of Cambodia.
Teaching in primary school is free of charge, but it is
common with bribes or teachers to pay for school materials.
Teacher salaries are very low and many teachers must have
side income to support the family. Lack of teachers and
premises means that on average, a teacher in Cambodia has 50
students in the class, and in rural areas the classes are
often even larger. Textbooks and other materials are also
missing at all levels.
The largest university is the Royal University of Phnom
Penh, founded in 1960. In addition, there are nearly twenty
colleges/universities with a special focus on, for
example, agriculture, economics, medicine, technology or
arts and culture. In higher education there are the same
shortcomings as at lower levels, and the poor knowledge of
the educators is a serious limitation to the country's
development. Only 3% of young people start college.
Only less than two percent of the budget was allocated
annually to the education sector during the latter part of
the 1990s, a low proportion compared to other poor
countries. Several hundred aid projects with a focus on
education were in progress in different parts of the
country. UNESCO has estimated that close to 24% of the
population was not literate in 2007. The majority of these
were women in rural areas.
1991 Peace Agreement
In July 1990, the United States withdrew its recognition
of Democratic Kampuchea and began negotiations with Vietnam
on a peace formula. In September 1991, a peace agreement was
signed, establishing a Supreme National Council with
representatives of the Phnom Penh government and parts of
the opposition, and under the leadership of Sihanouk, who
was to govern the country until the elections in 1993. In
1992, the UN issued a great peace force to control the
ceasefire and organize the holding of elections.
The election to the Constitutional Assembly in May 1993
was boycotted by the Khmer Rouge. It was won by Funcinpec
under the leadership of Norodom Ranariddh - Sihanouk's son -
and got over half the seats. In the new government,
Ranariddh and Hun Sen shared the prime minister post.
In September 93, the new constitution was passed, the
constitutional assembly was transformed into parliament and
a parliamentary monarchy was established. Sihanouk was
appointed king - "independent" of all political parties. The
monarch spent most of 1994 in China, where he was being
treated for cancer, but at the same time he continued his
work for the formation of a "national reconciliation
government" that would also include the Khmer Rouge.
In 1995, fighting between the government and the Khmer
Rouge, which controlled 15% of the territory, peaked. At the
same time, the IMF expressed its confidence in the economic
development of the country. In 1996, the Khmer Rouge began
to show signs of exhaustion. In June of that year, various
versions of Pol Pot's death emerged, which were interpreted
as signs of internal divisions in the guerrillas. The
numerous deserts indicated that government policy aimed at
"splitting" the Khmer Rouge was producing results.