The Challenge

Educational inequity is one of Cambodia’s greatest crises; it is severely diminishing the life opportunities of many children and holding the nation back from reaching its 2050 vision of becoming a developed economy. Where children are born can determine their educational, and perhaps, life trajectory:

  • Only 1 in 10 children who start school in Cambodia today will finish high school. [1]
  • The gross tertiary enrollment rate in Cambodia is just under 15 percent—one of the lowest in Southeast Asia. [2]

These statistics do not reflect the true potential of our children. Instead, it tells us that there is a deeply systemic problem—one that isn’t the fault of a single actor but multiple underlying root causes.

Three Factors

Teach For Cambodia has identified three factors forming a cycle that produces and perpetuates educational inequity in Cambodia:

Socioeconomic Factors:  Parents of disadvantaged children have limited knowledge, resources and capacity to provide support for their children’s learning. Many children work while attending schools; some end up dropping out to become child laborers. According to the National Institute of Statistics, about 1 in 5 children age 5-17 were economically active in 2015; nearly two-thirds of these working children were not attending school.[3]

School System Factors: In 2012 and 2013, more than 2,000 teachers left the teaching profession. There have been efforts but not adequately successful interventions to solve the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport’s fundamental challenge with teacher supply. Attrition rates are increasing at the upper-secondary level which creates major supply problems and lower teaching quality. Teachers earn about 60% of the average monthly income of other professionals in 2011, making it extremely difficult to attract new talent into the system. [4]

Prevailing Belief Factors: Far too many children in Cambodia show up in schools that set low expectations for them. Many educators and school leaders lack the capacity and/or commitment to put our children on a different educational trajectory.

Moni’s Story    |    What We Do

[1] Department of Education Management Information Systems (DoEMIS). April 2016. Education Statistics and Indicators 2015 – 2016. Phnom Penh: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
[2] Khieng Sothy, Srinivasa Madhur, Chhem Rethy, eds. March 2015. Cambodia Education 2015, Employment and Empowerment. Phnom Penh: Cambodia Development Research Institute.
[3] National Institute of Statistics. October 2016. Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey 2015. Phnom Penh: Ministry of Planning.
[4] Teacher Training Department. January 2015. Teacher Policy Action Plan. Phnom Penh: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.