Cambodia’s Minister of Education, Youth and Sport visits IIEP-UNESCO

03 November 2015

A delegation from Cambodia visited IIEP-UNESCO on 2 November 2015 to discuss the country’s recent progress and remaining challenges to improving access to quality education for all. The Education Minister of Cambodia, His Excellency Dr Hang Chuon Naron, led the visit and also identified areas for further collaboration with IIEP on education planning and management.

The other members of the delegation included H.E. Secretary of State Nath Bunroeun, Mr Oung Borat, Deputy Director General, Directorate General of Policy and planning and Mr Tep Phyorith, Deputy Director of Finance.

The visit, which came one day before the official opening of the 38th session of the General Conference, highlighted a number of salient issues the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) is currently addressing.

Investing in teachers

Dr Naron first stressed the importance of attracting qualified teachers as a way to positively influence student performance.

“We’re working on upgrading teacher qualifications to be in line with ASEAN standards by creating opportunities to attract qualified and motivated people to become teachers, providing training and professional support, as well as revising incentives and benefits,” said Dr Naron.

As part of the Teacher Policy Action Plan, implemented earlier this year, teachers in Cambodia are already benefitting from increased salaries. Dr Naron also emphasized that in order to retain teachers, career paths – such as senior teachers with a corresponding salary – need to be defined.

With a high percentage of grade 12 students not passing the 2014 national exam, the MoEYS has had to respond very quickly and focus on building teacher capacity to improve learning outcomes. The Minister said he has also recently unveiled a more comprehensive school inspections plan that looks at management, instruction, leadership and learning outcomes.

“We also want to integrate more life skills into the curriculum so that when students leave they have something with them,” said Dr Naron in addressing the major problem of a skills mismatch for graduates struggling to find jobs.

With children’s access to primary school now at 97% with no gender disparity, Dr Naron says Cambodia as a post-conflict country has made immense strides in improving education in recent years.

“What we did was impressive but Cambodia is changing very fast,” he said. “The people want more.”

Developing capacity for a stronger future

In order to remain relevant in the future and help with the country’s vision to become an upper-middle-income country by 2030, the MoEYS is particularly focusing on capacity development. In this vein, the Ministry and IIEP are continuing their collaboration to further enhance national training capacities and improve local resources and documentation on education planning issues.

IIEP has worked closely with the MoEYS since December 2012 when the Ministry’s National Institute for Education (NIE) first entered into a twinning agreement. The objective of this programme is to transform NIE into an effective training centre at the national and regional level.

It relies on a range of activities including training at IIEP and in Cambodia, collaborative research, development of training materials, and the setting up of a resource center. As a result, a group of some twelve NIE staff members have become competent trainers in educational planning and have started organizing training workshops for provincial and district officers.

IIEP is also assisting Cambodia with a Mid-Term review of its 2014-2018 Education Strategic Plan (ESP), which is helping the MoEYS identify education priorities for the coming years.

Both the twinning program and support to the Mid-Term review are financed through the Education Capacity Development Partnership Fund, which receives funding from the European Union, the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (Sida), and UNICEF.

"It has been a privilege to work together and Cambodia is an important partner,” said IIEP Director Suzanne Grant Lewis at the close of the meeting. “We appreciate that we have been able to work together for a few years now and help you see change."