$23 million boost in education budget

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:

The Finance Ministry is planning to raise the national education budget to more than $700 million next year in a bid to improve standards in schools.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron has meanwhile set out priority areas to address, including teacher shortages, school infrastructure arrangements, plus additional training for teachers in technology and foreign languages.

Speaking at a workshop on the issue yesterday, Mr Chuon Naron said the ministry had been trying to improve teacher training and reform exams for the past few years.

But he warned challenges still persisted, including a skills gap between secondary and higher education levels, a lack of teachers in some areas, and limited teacher quality.

“We need to invest in strengthening the ability of the ministry to monitor improvements, boost the quality of teacher training, and look at accountability for school results,” he said.

Eng Phirun, principal of Preah Monivong High School in Battambang province, said schools struggled with delayed access to budgets, shortages and oversupply of teachers in some subjects, a lack of tables and chairs for students, and a lack of motivated teachers and school leaders.

He asked the education and finance ministries to address the issues and help strengthen the professional ethics of teachers.

Finance Ministry secretary of state Vongsey Vissoth agreed with the Education Ministry’s priorities for development, saying officials would discuss how to put the ideas into practice.

According Mr Vissoth, the ministry this year provided $677 million to improve the quality of education and would increase the budget to more than $700 million next year.

“We have built many schools in recent years. Next year, we will continue doing the same,” he said.

Ou Ron, a representative of Kampuchean Action for Primary Education, backed plans to strengthen the quality of teachers and increase accountability in schools.

However, he said clear measures were needed to address challenges and identify specific priorities to improve the quality of education.

“Accountability is very important,” he said.

According to government figures, the education budget was $269 million in 2013, equivalent to 1.77 percent of GDP. That increased to $677 million in 2017, or 3.08 percent of GDP, excluding additional expenditures of $50-60 million for school construction.

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