Cambodia Education

Cambodia Education


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 systematic.

Land area 181,035 km²
Total population 16,926,984
Residents per km² 93.5
Capital Phnom Penh
Official language Khmer
Income per capita 4,000 USD
Currency Riel
ISO 3166 code KH
Internet TLD .kh
License plate K
Telephone code +855
Time zone UTC + 7
Geographic coordinates 13 00 N, 105 00 O

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%.

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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.

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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.

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