Cambodia’s Education System

Cambodian schoolProfessor Kenneth Wilson of the Royal University of Phnom Penh brings us a deep reflection on the Cambodia’s Education System in an article at The Cambodia Daily, A System Utterly in Need. The time is greatly appropriate when we are few weeks away from the next national elections and parties are discussing on the meaning of development.

There are two points I underline on the Prof. Wilson’s article: the problem of teachers’ salaries and the connection between education and development.

As for salary he says:

‘The most critical area for increased expenditure in education is for salaries of teachers and university lecturers and educational administrators. Virtually all education personnel work two or three jobs in order to survive, leaving little time for research, updating curriculum and student/parent interaction. The low salaries drive quality down. The fact that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has under spent its budget by 33 million dollars in 2011 in the salary budget line makes this question even more critical. Government has the money; for unclear reasons, it is just not used for salaries.’

This is easy to prove if you visit most Cambodian schools and ask teachers for their salary and it is even more serious in rural areas. How a teacher can survive with so low salaries as 60 USD is a mystery and it is understandable the many options they have such as getting alternative jobs, charging students or leading small acts of corruption such as selling exams answers.

One of the reasons of school abandonment in Cambodia is precisely the fact that many teachers charge children for lessons or extra-lessons or many other ways to get a complement for their low salaries. We should add to this situation the lack of formation, updating and the digital gap.

The second point from the interesting article of Prof. Wilson is this one, where he does an arithmetical social operation:

‘Quality creates quality: If a teacher’s qualifications are low, and performance standards aren’t established and measured, the knowledge and capabilities of graduates will be impaired. The quality of the teacher directly impacts the quality of the product, an educated pupil; similarly, ability affects end results and the teacher’s capability is a direct consequence of her/his own education and experience.’

Any policy maker can guess it:

– Teachers with low salaries + low qualification = students with low capacity to enter the development process…



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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

2 responses to “Cambodia’s Education System”

  1. Anonymous says :

    Now this fact about teachers’ salary in Cambodia just freaks me out. It pays to do a little research indeed.

  2. KELLYMUZIK says :

    I gotta agree with the thoughts that professor Kenneth Wilson has pointed out. The fact that the government has the money; but it’s just not used for the professors’ salaries is still a mystery to the Cambodian people.

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