Looking back on a decade of cooperation with Cambodia

14 October 2021


Agent Wolf/Shutterstock
A rural school in Kampong Prasat, southern Cambodia

For nearly a decade, IIEP-UNESCO has been working hand-in-hand with Cambodia's National Institute of Education (NIE). The goal: to build the capacity of those responsible for training in educational planning and management, so that they can in turn train and strengthen the skills of the staff in the Provincial Offices of Education (PoE). This strategic support has been part of a broader “twinning programme” with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Ten years on, we share its key steps and highlights.

Step 1: Strengthen the individual capacities of trainers

Initially, the National Institute of Education was intended to train Cambodia's teachers. However, the decentralization of decision-making in education revealed a profound need for training in educational planning and management within the education administrations. Considering its sound expertise in the area of training, the Ministry decided that NIE would be also in charge of strengthening the capacities of educational planners at the sub-national level. Thus, developing the individual capacities of NIE managers and trainers themselves, in the area of educational planning and management, became the starting point for IIEP’s technical assistance.

Ten years later, Cambodia now has some 20 alumni who have graduated from the IIEP’s Masters’ level Advanced Training Programme. In addition, nearly 55 people have participated in the Specialized Courses Programme. All of them work in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, many of them for the NIE that operates under the Ministry.

With Dr. Sieng Sovanna, Director of the National Institute of Education (NIE), Cambodia

Step 2: Co-construct and deliver training adapted to local issues

Building on this initial capacity building effort, NIE has since trained approximately 225 managers and technical staff in the departments involved in education planning and management at the provincial level. This initiative contributed to reinforce the capacities of the 25 Provincial Education Offices to autonomously prepare their provincial education sector plans. This was a way of responding concretely to the new responsibilities assigned to these decentralized structures over time, by providing a response in line with local needs and realities.

To this end, IIEP provided technical support for the design and development of several tailor-made courses for the NIE teams. The first was on the fundamentals of educational planning and management; the second on teacher management; and the third on the financing of education, intended more specifically for members of the finance department in the provincial education offices.

The project also included a component on capacity building in knowledge management and sharing, supported by the IIEP library. This support covered two aspects: online access to key resources on educational planning and management through the creation of a virtual resource center, and training sessions on information and library management.

"To co-construct the trainings with NIE, we have always followed the same methodology: organize on-site workshops with different actors from PoEs and the central level to assess local needs, define together the objectives, activities, and assessment modalities, before translating all the training materials from English to Khmer."
Jimena Pereyra, Programme Specialist at IIEP.

Prior to attending the IIEP Masters’ level Advanced Training Programme in 2012-2013 Dr. Chansean Mam was a science trainer at the NIE. Upon his return to Cambodia from IIEP, he was promoted to Deputy Head of the Department of Planning and Management at NIE.

"Before collaborating with IIEP, the National Institute of Education had no resources at all for educational planning and management. We started from zero. IIEP has had a decisive impact on capacity building of our trainers in this new area, and also on the institutional development of NIE. In addition to in-service training provided to members of the PoE, NIE now offers a pre-service Master's degree and a Doctorate programme in educational administration. Most of the trainers and lecturers who teach in these two programmes have studied at IIEP, including myself. All the experience and knowledge gained from IIEP is very beneficial for all of us."
-Dr. Chansean Mam

Comprehensive cooperation throughout the planning cycle

In addition to all the work done with the NIE over the years, IIEP has worked continuously with the Directorate General of Policy and Planning (DGPP) within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Established in 2015, the DGPP reflects Cambodia's commitment to strategic planning for education.

After providing technical support to Cambodia in 2015-16 for the mid-term review of its 2014-2018 education strategic plan, IIEP followed up the next year with a rapid education sector analysis of the country. This diagnosis and the mid-term review helped Cambodia receive a grant from the Global Partnership for Education to finance important reforms outlined in the education strategic plan.

Mariela Buonomo Zabaleta, Programme Specialist and Responsible of the Monitoring and Evaluation Cluster at IIEP, explains: “We then provided specific support to the DGPP to prepare the Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023 and to strengthen the capacity of its Monitoring and Evaluation Department, thus enabling it to better steer the implementation of the strategic plan.”

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is now finalizing the mid-term review of the current education strategic plan with technical support from IIEP. "With the consequences of the pandemic, it is not only about measuring progress but also of integrating into the plan the lessons learned to ensure continuity of learning, including dimensions related to digital learning," says Buonomo Zabaleta.

From education sector analysis to monitoring the implementation of the plan, from individual and institutional capacity-building to support for the national training institute, this twinning collaboration between IIEP and the Cambodian Ministry of Education has closed the loop of educational planning.

  • Around 75 Cambodian Ministry of Education officials have been directly trained by IIEP over the past 10 years.
  • 100 % of the Provincial Offices of Education in Cambodia have been trained in educational planning and management by NIE.

Cambodian participants at IIEP from 4 February