The Education System in Cambodia

Primary school students in Cambodia

Primary school students in Cambodia

In this post, Sokhan Khut, Country Manager for Cambodia at BOOKBRIDGE, gives a short introduction to the Cambodian Education System.

In Cambodia, an education system has been in place since at least from the thirteenth century on. Traditionally, Cambodian education took place in the Wats (Buddhist monasteries) and was offered exclusively to the male population. The education involved basic literature, the foundation of religion and skills for daily life like carpentry, artistry, craftwork, constructing, playing instruments etc.

This ‘traditional’ education was gradually changed when Cambodia was a French colony (1853-1963). The French introduced a formal education system influenced by a Western educational model, which was developed through the independence period (1960s), alongside with the traditional education. During the following civil wars, the education system suffered a chronic crisis and was completely destroyed during the Red Khmer regime (1970s).  Between 1980s and 1990s, education was reconstructed from almost ‘nothing’ and has been gradually developed until now.

Presently, after its reform in 1996, the formal educational structure of Cambodia is formulated in 6+3+3. This means 12 years for the completion of general education that divides up into six years for primary education (grade 1 to 6) and six years for secondary general education (grade 7 to 12). Secondary education consists of three years each for lower secondary education (grade 7 to 9) and upper secondary education (grade 10 to 12). This formulation does not include at least one year for pre-school education (kindergarten) for children from 3 to below 6 years old and universitary education of 4 to 5 years.
Two others components of Cambodian educational structure involve non-formal education providing all children, youth, adult, disabled people with literacy and access to life skills. The other component is teacher training education. This allows students that successfully completed grade 12 or grade 9 to pursue teacher certificates at provincial teacher training colleges (for primary school teachers) or regional teacher training centers (for lower secondary school teachers).

Currently, the educational system is run by the Cambodian state, but private education exists at all levels and is run by private sectors. Most private schools offering pre-school education and general education have been operated by the communities of ethnic and religious minority including Chinese, Muslim, French, English and Vietnamese. Private higher education is accessible mainly in the capital of the country, but it is also available throughout the provinces of Cambodia.

Cambodian general education is based on a national school curriculum that consists of two main parts: basic education and upper secondary education. Basic education curriculum is divided into three cycles of three years each. The first cycle (grade 1-3) consists of 27-30 lessons per week lasting 40 minutes which are allocated to the five main subjects:
•    Khmer (13 lessons)
•    Maths (7 lessons)
•    Science & Social Studies including Arts (3 lessons)
•    Physical and Health Education (2 lessons) and local life skills program (2-5 lessons)

The second cycle (grade 4-6) comprises of the same number of lessons but is slightly different:
•    Khmer (10 for grade 4 and 8 for grade 5-6)
•    Maths (6 for grade 4-6)
•    Science (3 for grade 4 and 4 for grade 5-6)
•    Social Studies including arts (4 for grade 4 and 5 for grade 5-6)
•    Physical and Health Education (2 for grade 4-6)
•    Local life skills program (2-5 for grade 4-6).

The third cycle (grade 7-9) consists of 32-35 lessons which are allocated for 7 major subjects:
•    Khmer
•    Maths
•    Social Studies and Science (6 lesson respectively)
•    Foreign languages (4 lessons)
•    Physical & Health Education and Sports (2 lessons)
•    Local life skills program (2-5 lessons)

Upper Secondary Education curriculum consists of two different phases. The curriculum for the first phase (grade 10) is identical to the third cycle of primary education (see above).  The second phase (grade 11-12) has two main components: Compulsory and Electives. Compulsory involves four major subjects with different numbers of lesson allocated per week: Khmer literature (6 lessons), Physical & Health Education and Sports (2 lessons), Foreign language: English or French (must choose one, 4 lessons each) and Mathematics: Basic or Advance (must choose one, 4 or 8 lesson respectively). Electives include three major subjects covering four or five sub-subjects with four lessons allocated per week for each one (students may choose one or two or three of them):
•    Science: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Environmental Studies
•    Social Studies: Moral/Civics, History, Geography, Economics
•    EVEP: ICT/Technology, Accounting Business Management, Local Vocational Technical Subject, Tourism and Arts Education and other subjects

For those choosing Basic Maths or Advance Maths must choose four sub-subjects or three subjects respectively from the electives.

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2 Responses to “The Education System in Cambodia”

  1. Kim Cooke says:

    I’m writing to see if you can help me with finding a small school in Cambodia.

    The reason for this is I’m part of a committee that is organising the LARGE CANVAS SCHOOL PROJECT in 2016 for the Agnes Water1770 Art Festival. AUSTRALIA

    We are a smaller community on the coast of Queensland

    We allocate local schools in the area and supply a canvas about (2mx1m) and art supplies to paint onto the canvas.

    We have a theme for next year ‘THE REEF’ and get the schools to paint a canvas and is exhibited in the Art Festival. The Festival coincides with the Captain Cook Festival which brings a many tourist to the area.

    We would love to include a sister school that we can keep in touch with and get them involved in this art project. I’d like to see the schools keep in touch with each other so they can all be part of this process.

    At the end of the festival an amount of money is given back to the schools to use for art supplies. In the case of the sister school the money could be used for general school equipment or even create an art project for the school to continue on with.

    At this stage we are finalising our sponsors for monies in this project.

    If you think this project is viable to do with a Cambodian school, I would love to hear from you and get in contact with them to get it started. Also any advice you can give me too.

    We would love to work with a small school of students.

    The Festival is on the 18th-22nd May 2016.

    I look forward to your reply.

    Kind Regards
    Kim Cooke

    1770 Art Festival
    Coorinator for the Large Canvas School Project

  2. […] Posted on November 20, 2015 by rasothida97 Education is the important part of Cambodia economic and culture. To know more about education system in Cambodia click here […]

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