Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports

Strategies to Increase Student Survival Rate in Primary School

Your Excellency Chairman Senior Minister, excellencies, honorable guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to you all for supporting the development of the education sector.  It is a great honor for me to brief you today on the progress and challenges related to the Joint Monitoring Indicator for education, and to express our determination and commitment to make progress on these two JMI indicators.

On the first JMI on school enrolment, significant progress has been achieved which makes us hopeful that the JMI target is achievable. A decade ago there were less than 2 million primary school students enrolled, today enrolment has increased to more than 2.6 million. This translates to increased net enrolment rate from 78 per cent a decade ago to nearly 92 per cent today. According to these figures, achieving universal primary education over the next decade seems reachable, but it will require that we give more serious attention to the problem of primary school drop-out.

Children who drop out are, by definition, non-completers. Of course, some who dropped out may come back to schools, or they can be offered non-formal alternatives designed to get them through the primary school curriculum. The government, with help from donors and NGOs, is running some “second-chance” programs to help drop-outs to complete the primary education cycle. The number of drop-outs, as measured by Education Management Information System, however, is large. For Cambodia to be judged as being “on track” additional ways need to be found to keep children in school and reduce drop-outs significantly.

On the second JMI of cohort survival rate, the situation we face is even more challenging. In the past decade the increasing GDP per capita was matched by the increasing enrollment in primary education. As primary education enrolment increased, the survival rate substantially increased from 31.3% in 1997 to 51.1% in 2001. However, the survival rate has remained nearly the same at the rate of about 50% from 2001 to 2005. What explains this trend?  The Government success in the win-win strategy of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen led to rapid expansion of coverage of primary education especially in disadvantaged areas such as areas under control of Khmer Rouge, border areas, mine fields and ex-fighting zones. Providing increased access to education in these difficult areas means that we are now starting to reach the hard-to-reach and disadvantaged children, who are more likely to drop out or repeat. Therefore, the MoEYS will continue to implement measures to decrease drop out and repetition especially among the disadvantaged children. . The drop-out rate at the primary school has been reduced from 15% in 1997 to 12% in 2005, but this rate remains high and needs to be further reduced.

Excellencies, honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports therefore has made a series of intensive discussions among its relevant departments and with our development partners and has made recommendations for common goal of increasing the student survival rate at the primary school by:

  1. developing core textbooks: to provide timely core textbooks to students and teachers;

  2. providing support for disadvantaged schools: to build teacher’s houses and dormitories for students;

  3. reducing incomplete schools: to provide additional classrooms, latrines and clean drinking water, to implement multi-grade classes in some areas and transform them to complete schools where there are more students;

  4. implementing decentralized curriculum:  to implement curriculum according to local conditions;

  5. conducting school-self assessment and monitoring: to build school principals’ capacity for school-self assessment and monitoring on learning and teaching;

  6. improving internal rules: to review and improve internal rules and examinations;

  7. paying attention on teachers: to select teachers from their localities, to increase allowances for teachers at remote and difficult areas; and

  8. improving educational statistics:  management of student statistics should be accurate at all levels.

I appreciate if we could receive further generous support from you to improve the situation by implementing those recommended strategies. We are happy to receive any advices or suggestions. Thank you for listening.

Power Point Presentation

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