The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) from 2013 to 2023 set out and implemented a range of reforms.

In 2014, the first phase included eight points of reform based on the five pillars, while 2015 had 15 points.

The second phase, focusing on school management and teacher training institutions began in 2018, while the third – which included system building and human resource development based on the five pillars – ran from 2019 to 2022.

The fourth phase of reforms, focusing on human resource training for the transformation into a digital economy, started in 2022.

MoEYS successfully held an educational congress from April 10-12, 2023, to review the achievements in education, youth and sport for the academic year 2021-2022 and the direction of the academic year 2022-2023.

The content of this article will focus on the successes in educational reform over those 10 years, as well as the achievements made in the academic year 2021-2022.

Cambodia has reached a new stage of educational development in response to the global context and in line with the development vision of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income nation by 2050.

The Ministry of Education introduced eight reforms, including:

(i) Improving the quality of education;

(ii) Strengthening the management of education personnel;

(iii) Strengthening all exam types;

(iv) Reforming higher education;

(v) Youth development in technical and soft skills;

(vi) Public financial management reform;

(vii) Physical education and sport reform;

(viii) Establishment of the education policy research unit.

The major outcomes of the first phase of reforms included:

(i) Staff management, with pay increases for education staff and the provision of salaries and budgets through the banking system;

(ii) Exam reforms through transferring Grade 9 exam responsibilities to the sub-national level, implementing reforms to the Grade 12 examination based on the principle of “those acquiring the knowledge will pass”, and reforms to the teacher selection exam;

(iii) Reforms in higher education, with the right to issue diplomas transferred to the higher education institutions responsible;

(iv) Reform of physical education and sport in preparation for the 2023 SEA Games, with the adopting of a policy on physical education and sport, the establishment of the National Olympic Stadium Management Committee and the commencement of redeveloping the National Olympic Stadium;

(v) Improving the effectiveness of education services through adopting national policies and national action plans on the protection and development of young children, initiating the New Generation Schools, and increasing scholarships for poor students at lower secondary schools.

Minister of Education HE Dr Hang Chuon Naron has overseen a wide range of important reforms. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Based on the results of the first phase in 2015, MoEYS launched the second phase of education reform, focusing on five pillars:

(i) Implementation of the teacher policy action plan;

(ii) Inspections;

(iii) Study assessments;

(iv) Curriculum improvement;

(v) Higher education reform, with 15 priority points.

Major results in the second phase of education reform from 2015 to 2017 included:

1st reform - Public financial management;

2nd reform - Deployment of teachers;

3rd reform - Teacher training centre reforms;

4th reform - Teacher qualification improvements;

5th reform - Inspection work;

6th reform - Assessment of academic results;

7th reform – Grade 12 examination reform;

8th reform - Curriculum and textbook reforms;

9th reform - Constructing and renovating buildings;

10th reform - Higher education evaluation;

11th reform - Promoting sport;

12th reform - Implementation of action plans on youth policy;

13th reform - Technical education;

14th reform - Establishment of New Generation Schools;

15th reform - Career orientation and principal training.

In 2017, the Ministry of Education launched the third phase of reforms, focusing on school reform, including New Generation Schools and model or effective schools, and pedagogical school reforms.

In the third phase, MoEYS also placed high priority to improving the quality of primary education by:

(i) Promoting early grade reading;

(ii) Early grade mathematics;

(iii) Increasing the number of good Khmer literature teachers for Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3;

(iv) Establishing a model school for early grade reading and mathematics, and practising effective school management.

At the 2022 educational congress, the Ministry of Education launched the fourth phase of education reform measures, namely “Human Resource Training Reform for the Transformation into a Digital Economy”, focusing on nine priorities:

(i) School reforms;

(ii) Teacher development through teacher training institution reforms;

(iii) Digital education;

(iv) Science and technology education;

(v) Promoting health studies;

(vi) Youth development to improve 21st century skills;

(vii) The establishment of a centre of excellence in higher education;

(viii) System building and capacity development;

(ix) The development of physical education and sport.

The main achievements of MoEYS in the academic year 2021-2022 included:

(i) Education: As of the academic year 2022-2023, those enrolled in kindergarten and general education institutions – whether public, community or private – numbered 18,830 general education students among a total of 3,676,575 students.

There were 19 technical and vocational education institutions with a total of 3,259 students, 132 higher education institutions nationwide with 205,636 students, and a total of 90,950 Grade 12 examination candidates, of which 1,049 were Grade A students.

(ii) Youth development: The Ministry of Education expanded the structure of the Youth Development Council, as well as researched and published the “Index of Cambodian Youth Development”, “Report on Analysis of the Situation of Cambodian Youth”, and the “Youth Management Information System”.

It planned the Cambodian National Scout Strategy 2023-2027, continued to train “21st Century Skills for Youth” and increased the number of Cambodian National Scouts to 175,000.

MoEYS also organised important youth programmes such as the National Youth Debate Program; 21 Youth Programs; Business Program Nation for Youth; 21st Century Youth Achievement Program; and Information Technology and Digital Skills Exchange Workshop.

The Peace Messenger for My Community; Volunteer for My Community; Business Plan Competition; Digital Literacy; and Five ASEAN Youth Programs were also organised.

(iii) Physical education and sport: The Ministry of Education organised the 3rd National Games and the 1st National Para Games, and co-organised international games competitions in the country, winning three gold, three silver and 13 bronze medals.

It also sent athletes to participate in international sporting competitions abroad, winning 326 gold, 363 silver and 681 bronze medals, participated in the World Championships, with 39 gold, 52 silver and 65 bronze medals, and the Asian Championship, taking home 77 gold, 77 silver and 127 bronze.

Achievements in education, youth and sport involve hard work, and the balance of body, mind and intellect, and reflect a strong sense of responsibility, conscientiousness and patriotism, and the spirit to overcome all challenges.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will continue to address remaining issues based on the “Rehabilitation, Reform and Resilience” approach, as well as set out the necessary response measures in line with the government’s reform priorities.

This will be carried out in collaboration with relevant ministries, institutions and development partners to continue to develop the Education, Youth and Sport sectors to contribute to achieving the Cambodia 2030 and 2050 visions, and towards a more prosperous and better educated society.