WASHINGTON DC —
A new study finds that education quality in Cambodia has been hampered by poor textbooks, poorly distributed.
A study by the Khmer Institute for National Development and the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific found books with poor spelling and content, sometimes not even making it into the hands of students before the school year was finished.
“This does not bring quality or comprehensive learning for students,” said San Chey, country representative for ANSA-EAP. “It’s a common concern from students that the shortage of textbooks can result in their poor performance.”
Research was conducted at 33 schools in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampot, Kampong Speu, and Kampong Cham.
“Students almost finished their school year and then the text books just arrived, which is not appropriate for those who wait for them,” said Seng Rithy, executive director of Khmer Institute for National Development. “There were leftover textbooks in some areas because they were delivered late and students had already bought their own from the market.”
Many of the schools did not have enough books, even if they had arrived on time, forcing students to borrow them from the library or friends—taking turns to study the materials.
In an e-mail to VOA Khmer, Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron dismissed the study as “not really credible” and not representative of the nation’s more than 8,000 schools. “According to our studies the reason for dropouts is not textbooks,” he said. “But textbooks can improve the quality of learning.”
He said there is “room for improvement” in book distribution and a plan is being put in place to improve monitoring and distribution of books.
The newest study also concludes that Cambodia will need to increase its spending on text books, up to $7 million per year, to rectify the shortages.
“We must increase the budget for printing more textbooks and find and punish bad officials who steal textbooks and sell them in the market,” Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said.