Cambodian Education


The Cambodian education system has been improved for years after getting blame from the public for its poor and corrupt system during over 3 decades of civil conflict, including the Khmer Rouge “Killing Fields” regime in 1975-1975 when schools were completely closed and some became prisons. Since the country has gained complete peace in early 1999 and it integrated in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) tries to reform the Kingdom’s Educational System and it is now back on the right tract with recognition from the public. The 10 nations of ASEAN consists: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.



Before the French colony (1863 -1953), the Kingdom’s traditional education was based on Buddhist monasteries and this was gradually changed and influenced by the colonial model. Presently, after its reform in 1996, the formal educational structure of Cambodia is formulated in 6+3+3. This means 12 years for the completion of general education that divides up into six years for primary education (grade 1 to 6) and six years for secondary general education (grade 7 to 12). Secondary education consists of three years each for lower secondary education (grade 7 to 9) and upper secondary education (grade 10 to 12). This formulation does not include at least one year for pre-school education (kindergarten) for children from 3 to below 6 years old and universitary education of 4 to 5 years.



In recent years in order to improve the general educational quality, RGC has encouraged students who get grade A at the final exam of high school by offering them one new motorbike each and providing scholarship for the whole university with 4-year time (some private universities spend 5 years as they need the first year for English class). Those who get grade A can also choose any subject they like for their university. Like other schools in the region and around the globe, RGC through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) intends to have the National Education For All (NEA) and continue to give highest priority to equitable access with high quality education, especially basic ones. While some rural schools still do not have enough text books for pupils, the RGC tries its best to provide free reading books and help set up libraries for them.



According MoEYS report, MoEYS provides greater emphasis to expanding early childhood education, expanding non-formal education, technical and vocational training and expanding opportunities to access secondary education and post-secondary education through the continued and improved partnership among RGC, development partners, private sector, non-governmental organizations, communities and parents. “Other strong focal points include strengthening the implementation of the Education Law, the teachers’ code of conduct and good governance. At the same time, key components include the capacity development of educational staff at all levels and the encouragement of decentralization,” the report reads. At the same time, in order to reduce corruption among educational staff and even teachers, RGC has increased their salary every year. Since the reform and open-heart for education, many schools are run by private sector, NGOs and communities with different countries and religions.


By Chhay Sophal

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