A UNESCO report examines the role of private schools in the education system

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports partnered with UNESCO to disseminate the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report focusing on the roles of non-state actors and state actors in ensuring a sustainable education for all.

The 2021-2022 GEM report indicates that this year, 350 million children were educated by non-state actors – that is, private schools – around the world.

Therefore, according to the report, it is crucial to understand the environment and systems in which public and private schools operate in each country to ensure that the right to education and the educational needs of children, young people and adults are satisfied.

The report specifies that in Cambodia, private schools are present at all levels of education starting from the pre-school level. Private institutions are particularly prevalent in tertiary education, which is the only level of education where non-public provision exceeds public provision – with private tertiary institutions accounting for more than 60% of the total in 2018.

Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative in Cambodia, said that private education is not a new phenomenon in Cambodia and occupies an important place in the Cambodian education system and provides educational services at all levels. , which is essential.

“It is evident that it has already contributed – together with public institutions – as part of a single education system to help the country achieve its fourth Sustainable Development Goal on education,” he said.

He also commended Cambodia’s commitment to providing quality and equitable primary and secondary education to all children. In 2020, the effective primary school enrollment rate was 97%, reflecting Cambodia’s significant progress in ensuring universal access to education.

Nath Bunroeun, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education, said on this occasion that private sector actors and NGOs have played an important role in contributing to the sustainability of education in Cambodia.

“The government’s strategic objective is to develop ‘quality education, inclusive equity and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ in a science and technology driven system, orientation towards the labor market and on physical education to support socio-economic development,” he added. said.

He added that the ministry also focuses on poor families, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, victims of natural disasters and epidemics and gender disparities as factors affecting equal access to education. ‘education.

The UNESCO report made some recommendations to address the challenges: redouble efforts to ensure free and state-funded access to one year of pre-school education and 12 years of primary and secondary education for all children and young people; establish quality standards that apply to all public and non-public educational institutions; build government capacity to monitor and enforce regulations; encourage innovation for the common good and bring together all actors who develop it and protect education from narrow vested interests

The report reflects the challenges facing Cambodia and the policy recommendations it makes to improve private education are relevant, but it will require the involvement of private actors in the Kingdom’s education system as they will inevitably have to answer the difficult question of “who chooses and who loses?” in the face of difficult decisions.