The national launch of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report 2017/8 at the Himawari Hotel was organised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in close cooperation with UNESCO. The event was attended by 120 participants from technical departments at the central and provincial levels, higher education institutions, the private sector, development partners and civil society.
A discussion on the theme of “Accountability in Education: Meeting our commitments” was held at the event. It aimed to show that accountability is the key to meeting UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 Education 2030.
According to Anne Lemaistre, UNESCO’s representative in Cambodia, accountability in education refers to the shared responsibility of governments, teachers, schools, the Ministry of Finance, parents, students, international organisations as well as civil society.
“In the context of Cambodia, Grade 12 exam reform has been done extremely successfully in terms of accountability. Through this reform, people involved in this sector are aware they need to change their behaviour; they will flunk if they don’t study hard. And I think it is beneficial for Cambodia,” said Ms Lemaistre.
In terms of accountability in Cambodia, Ms Lemaistre said there had been tremendous progress. There were several reforms, including public financial management reform, to boost transparency. She appreciated that teachers are now paid into their bank accounts on time and school budgets are now dispersed through the banking system; this is huge social progress, she said.
Hang Chuon Naron, education minister, said that although education has played an important role in Cambodia’s development and had responded to the needs of many parents, there were still some problems. Hence, the report showed that people should stop playing the blame game in education, because it is a shared responsibility.
Mr Chuon Naron said, “In March this year, the Ministry of Education implemented school management that is effective and has good results in term of education. And new-generation schools result from increased accountability as well. This accountability cannot be achieved unless schools have enough resources, high responsibility among school principles, and full participation from teachers, students, and parents.”
Mr Chuon Naron remarked that the matter of lower-performing schools, including primary through high schools, is not as serious as universities. Public school teachers are now better paid and parents willing to pay can send their children to study in private school. However, the wages of university teachers are still low and this is one factor making it hard to find qualified teachers at some universities. This is a big challenge for teachers in the provinces and rural areas, he said.