Children are Entitled to Free Education in Cambodia

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Children are entitled to nine years of free education in Cambodia. However, research shows that in 2012, 53% of students and 67% of parent respondents said they incurred costs for items they expected to be the responsibility of schools and MoEYS. (SITE NEP) A responsibility the government has confirmed to take on. The cost is estimated to be about $119/year/student, which is a major factor for school dropout, especially for poor households and families with multiple children in school. (SITE WEF) There needs to be a system where funds are allocated and added as a recurring cost in the MoEYS budget with a focus on ECE expanded coverage for disadvantaged areas.

Strategy Objective

Closing the Gaps that Persist in the Education System by providing equal opportunity to attend school. The barriers to education include but are not limited to a lack of schools in rural areas, corruption, poverty, old stereotypes, cultural norms, and traditions from a non-comprehensive list of factors. Cambodia has a very comprehensive policy framework for children’s education. However, there is a noticeable gap between policy and practice. (SITE World Vision) Although operating and in place since 2007, the Child-Friendly School (CFS) policy is still not fully implemented. The basic facilities that enhance school access, such as toilets, handwashing points, and clean running water, have not improved and are not looking to be better developed. (SITE CFS) There needs to be a sense of urgency, and MoEYS need to be held accountable for fulfilling the policy.

Currently, almost 50% of schools lack a water supply, and 30% lack toilets. The absence of such facilities results in school dropout and absenteeism, especially for girls. (SITE right to Education in Cambodia) While CFS has faced the usual defy undertakings of any innovation, executing the system has been a major challenge. At the local level, there has to be an evaluation system in place for non-profit organizations such as UNICEF, which created the District Training and Monitoring Teams (DTMTs) in 2007, comprised of staff members from the district office of education (DOE), school cluster directors, Technical Grade Leaders, and other senior education staff, mandating to supervisor and mentor individual schools in the implementation of CFS. Recent research shows that schools are not unavoidably safe places for children.

A shocking 73% of students (76% of boys. 70% of girls) report experiencing at least one form of violence in school, also attributed to the dropout rate but also holding a gap within the education system. Half of the students, all genders, rated their school, classrooms, and playground as ‘unsafe’ or ‘somewhat unsafe.’ (SITE International Center for Research on Women). Defending that schools should be a safe environment for children through effective implementation of the Policy on Child Protection in Schools (2016) and continuing the focus on training teachers to use positive forms of discipline. Improve the implementation of the Dimension 3 Safe School Guidelines (2013) under the MoEYS Child-Friendly School Policy (2007) structure. Increase responsiveness and accountability of local decision-makers by fully supporting the enhancement of the Social Accountability Framework (ISAF) as part of Cambodia’s decentralization process. (SITE CFS). Besides, more than one-quarter of girls between ages 13-17 who have reported being abused mention their first incident of childhood sexual abuse occurred at school. All of this adds to the importance of requiring immediate action from MoEYS. (SITE International Center for Research on Women).


The Government of Cambodia has made a clear decision to provide schooling for children as quickly as possible. They have done this by providing schools to attend and teachers in the classrooms, although most do not qualify for the job. Now the focus must turn towards progressing the quality of education. Achieving economic growth in Cambodia must include active roles in stakeholders, higher standards for teachers, the proper infrastructure for students to maintain access to schools, safe classrooms, and overall effective teaching. As outlined within this administrative strategy, institutions play a critical role in providing equitable education for marginalized students. The complex education system presents many challenges and a lack of proper funds delegated from the MoEYS. It is equally important that the government promote political and community engagement to ensure that impoverished areas in Cambodia have access to the resources to obtain educational training and for a more stable economy during this period of economic transformation.

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Children Are Entitled to Free Education in Cambodia. (2023, Mar 08). Retrieved June 21, 2024 , from

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