Enrolment in lower secondary education increased in 2017 while the dropout rate declined, showing marked improvement in Cambodia’s education sector, according to the Ministry of Education’s annual report.
The ministry began a three-day meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday to discuss the 2016-2017 academic year.
According to the report, the gross enrolment rate in lower secondary education increased from 53.8 percent in the 2015-2016 academic year to 55.7 percent in 2016-2017, while the dropout rate declined from 19.2 percent in 2015-2016 to 17.5 percent in 2016-2017.
Lower secondary education includes grades 7 to 9, while primary school includes grades 1 to 6.
The primary school promotion rate increased from 87.0 percent in 2015-2016 to 89.9 percent in 2016-2017, the report added, while the percentage of five-year-old children enrolled in any form of early children education programme rose from 66.35 percent in 2015-2016 to 68.50 percent in 2016-2017.
The results were attributed to a quantitative and qualitative increase of education facilities, strengthening of early grade reading and mathematics in primary education, and the provision of scholarships to poor students in primary and secondary education.
Other factors included the implementation of a dropout prevention programme, strengthening of inspections, and the implementation of a teacher policy action plan.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said the ministry tried to build more schools closer to people’s homes to encourage attendance.
He said there were now 14,189 state and private schools from kindergarten to the university level, at which more than three million students were studying.
“By campaigning to get children to go to school, building schools, providing teacher salaries and giving scholarships to poor families, the number of children enrolled in schools increased to 68.5 percent in 2017,” Mr Chuon Naron said.
He added that the education sector budget increased from $282 million in 2013 to $800 million in 2018, while the ministry also got at least $70 million a year from private donors.
Debora Comini, chair of the education sector working group, said the Education Ministry saw more achievements in the last academic year because it urged children to go to school and raised the salary of teachers.
“We hope that the education sector in Cambodia will be developed more in the future. And we are pleased that the ministry was willing to raise the percentage of the budget to more than 20 percent of the national budget by 2020,” she said.
Bin Chhin, acting minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, said the government was proud of the education sector.
“There have been a lot of achievements over the last four years in education reform by Minister Hang Choun Naron,” he said.