Ministry of Education suffers budget cuts despite loss of learning

Despite students’ poor academic performance, the Ministry of Education’s budget for this year was cut instead of securing additional funds to improve student performance and prevent dropouts.

According to the Budget Working Group which includes 20 international and national NGOs, the Ministry of Education was budgeted at $797 million for 2022, while in 2021 it received $810 million, a reduction of 1.6 %.

The data provided to Khmer time by the Ministry of Finance attests to this.

Covid-19 has not only proven to be a public health crisis, but also a disaster for education in Cambodia, as the latest study by the Ministry of Education revealed that Cambodian students have suffered a “loss of ‘learning’ over the two years of the pandemic.

As most of these children are likely to come from marginalized social groups, government support is crucial for restoring their school education and preventing dropouts.

It was learned that the government’s budgetary expenditure for education is calculated by “cutting certain unnecessary expenditures and focusing exclusively on the most necessary and urgent expenditures” and that the funds must be spent in priority on the absolute priority. , such as tools to fight Covid-19 .

By comparison, the budget called for 25.4% less for capital spending (like buildings and other assets), or about $50 million, compared to $68 million for 2021.

Finance Ministry Deputy Chief of Staff Nup Sothunvichet said Khmer time recently that for 2022, the government needed to spend wisely and focus primarily on absolutely necessary spending.

“Our nation prioritizes education, but some students have
dropped out of school and some students lack the necessary skills, forcing teachers to improve their skills rather than relying on
on the funding provided because Cambodia has many other important priorities that need attention at the same time,” he said.

“The general objective of the 2022 budget is the continuation of the fight against the Covid-19 virus, the municipal elections, the chairmanship of ASEAN, the hosting of the ASEAN summit and the organization of relevant events” , he added.

“The social sector is still a priority and the government must support the fight against Covid-19, improve the level of health care and increase services to be more accessible to the disadvantaged, vulnerable, women and children.

“Continuing to finance the operating budgets of reference hospitals and health centers means continuing to promote social protection policies,” he said.

The government will, however, continue to subsidize the education sector in various ways outside of the 2022 budget.

“Raise the level of education, as well as physical and sports education, including the continued allocation of scholarships to disadvantaged students and budget increases for the operation of schools.

Students at Boeng Trabek High School in Phnom Penh take a break during recess. Soviet KT/Yorn

“Maintain the strengths of the new generation of schools and build new ones, finance the operating costs of community kindergartens, develop skills in response to human resource needs, particularly in industrial development and job development.

“These can be done with tax support that is not provided for in the budget of the Ministry of Education,” Sothunvichet added.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Ros Soveacha said the challenges of Covid-19 have impacted the country’s education system and other sectors.

“The ministry must prioritize the health and safety of students and teachers.”

“The budget cuts won’t have much of a significant impact on efforts to improve the skills of students, teachers and school management. Spending will increase when the economy recovers from the effects of Covid-19,” he said.

“Parents play a crucial role in supporting their children’s learning in their new school career, because the quality of education depends on the commitment of the students themselves and the involvement of all stakeholders to promote learning, and not just the funding made available. ,” he said.

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) communications specialist Meas Bunly said the global impacts of Covid-19 and
the recent global food and fuel crisis
The crisis has had a significant impact on global economies, including in Cambodia.

“The shrinking fiscal space has an impact on budget allocations to all sectors, especially social sectors. UNICEF will continue to advocate for increased budget spending for social services including education for 2023 and beyond,” he said.

“(The increase in the budget will) be in line with the objectives of the national economic recovery plan and the national goals of improving education outcomes and skills by addressing children’s learning losses and education reforms. education sector contributing to human capital development for the long-term social and economic development of Cambodia,” he added.

  • Key words: budget, Ministry of Education