Human and Hope Association

Challenges in the Cambodian education system


As tens of thousands Grade 12 students in Cambodia prepare to retake their final exams over the next two days due to 74% having failed in August, one staff member who is retaking his exam reflects on the challenges he has faced in the high school education system.

“Education is the main factor to develop the country. If the education system is good the country will be develop faster but if it is bad the country will be decline. Cambodia after the end of Pol Pot regime (genocide) the government has tried to develop the country but until now Cambodia still in bad situation because of many factors such as corruption and negligence to education system etc. Education in Cambodia has several problems that the government hasn’t found the effective solution yet.

Challenges in Cambodia education system lead some students to frustrate, angry and have no more confidence to study caused by the unfairness in this system particularly the poor students in secondary and high school levels who are not effort to spend money for their studying. Through the observation and some information provided by students in public school about their concerns and difficulties which are affected to their education. The following are the challenges faced in Cambodia education system but the cases were not happen in all schools in Cambodia and in some schools the cases happened more than the description below:

Private tutoring: because of teachers have more lessons to teach and have no enough time to teach students the full lessons accordance to the government limited. So that teachers in some subjects such as Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Khmer literature open their extra class in order to focus more exercises in the lessons and they can focus on students more individually than in public school because in public school has much more students in each class but in the extra class has less students. Moreover, they can earn more money in extra class. Students have to pay around $5-$7 per month for one subject if they want to study extra class. This would cause the problems to the poor students who are not effort to pay for it. They will lose hope to study and not brave in class when teacher ask questions or ask them to do some exercises on the board they can’t do, but other students who study extra class can do and teacher always praise the extra class students and humiliate the students who didn’t study extra class that they are ignorant etc. Some teachers forced students to study extra class with them by doing some bad things in class like give difficult exercise in monthly or semester exam, show favor to students who studied extra class with them and students who didn’t study extra class might be fail in the exam even their marks already passed but when the extra class students fail they will be passed by added some extra marks.

Corruption and business in class: Students who had much more absences in class or the yearly average showed that they are fail base on the rules of the school they can’t go up to the next grade but some students can give money to teachers like a bribe for help them to be able to go to the next grade but this case was not face with every teachers. In the exam students must give 500R (12.5 cent) to teachers for the price of the test sheets in each subject despite teachers spend only 100Riel-200Riel for the test sheets. On the other hand, students can give money to teacher in some subjects if they don’t want to take the test for getting the full mark. In the classroom teachers are not allow to sell anything like books or lesson sheets but some teachers try to do business in class. Otherwise, in the classroom some teachers punished student by taking money from the one who broke the rules or didn’t follow what teacher said and the money didn’t use in common profits. All these cases are not acceptable and unfair to the students. Some bad students will not come to class and try hard to study they think they just have money is enough. They also degrade teachers who did that so teachers are not valuable and respectful to students.

Inappropriate punishments: When students breached the rules the school management team punished that students by let them standing under the flag pole while the sun was shining. During the punishment some students were not able to stand for many hours so they were unconscious and some teachers hit heads or bodies of students or curse and say bad words. They’re not proper methods to punish the bad students because teachers breached the right of the child policy and some punishments are the violent punishments for adult students.

Carefree in students studying: Several of teachers are not punctual they usually come to class late (around 10-50 minutes) and sometimes they finish the class early. It’s not a good model they teach students to be late and not punctual. No teachers to replace when some teachers were absent in class. Teachers didn’t come to class regularly they were absent frequently or didn’t come to class almost the whole year. Normally, teachers just pay more attention to extra class than public school therefore students who are not go to extra class will not gain enough knowledge for the exam. Furthermore, in the exam students can cheat each other and look at the hints during the exam because teachers didn’t care and control students strictly and now it becomes a students’ habit in exam.

Lack of teaching resources: almost teachers just come to school with markers, books and a computer. In some subjects especially sciences the school has to provide some teaching materials such as telescopes, some chemical elements and other things that students can use to experiment which help them to understand well and know the advantages of the lessons. But it’s not the schools’ fault it’s because yet the education system is not developed. Some teachers forced students to buy markers for them even it’s their responsibilities.”

Please note: This blog was written so our supporters can understand some of the challenges faced in the public education system. As our staff member said, these issues differ from school to school, and also province to province, however you now have an insight into the challenges faced in one school in Siem Reap. At Human and Hope Association, we pride ourselves on our commitment to our students education, protecting their rights and ensuring everything is fair. We wish to show our students that their education shouldn’t consist of the issues mentioned above.