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USAID Announces ‘Life Skills’ Curriculum for Cambodian Schools

Cambodian students wave their national flags during a ceremony to celebrate the country's Independence Day from France.
USAID has announced a new series of life skills manuals to be distributed in Cambodian schools, following the completion of a pilot project that began in 2012.

The manuals are part of the Improved Basic Education in Cambodia project and were developed with the Ministry of Education to help educators across the country.

The curriculum “puts Cambodia in the company of other countries in the region, such as Thailand and Malaysia,” said Rebecca Black, USAID’s Cambodia director.

The life skills manuals cover 30 different subjects, from society and the environment, to small business, personal finance and the arts.

“I think it’s needed for students, because they saw that the current curricula, such as chemistry and physics, did not provide much skills that they needed to compete in the work market,” said Kurt Bredenberg, an adviser to USAID on the project. “We hope that the curricula will interest students and keep them in school.”

Only about 27 percent of Cambodians finish high school, according to government statistics. Education Minister Hang Chounaron said the new curriculum would improve that number.

“To reduce the rate of school abandonment, we need to reform the curriculum, so that it’s concrete, smooth and responds to the job market,” he said.