The situation in Cambodia
According to Cambodia's constitution, all Cambodians are entitled to nine years of basic education. Progress has been made in terms of access to education. However, resources are still lacking in order to guarantee education for all. Children with disabilities and children belonging to minority groups are particularly exposed to discrimination as they are most often excluded from basic education. Violence against children, in school and at home, is common and there is a considerable lack of knowledge on children's rights. Physical violence at school is primarily directed at boys, however all children are affected.
In addition, the quality of education remains low. Low expectations of the quality of education, in turn, lead to a high number of dropouts, especially for boys. Girls also complete both primary and secondary education to a greater extent than boys. Scarce resources combined with a large number of pupils result in cramped school premises. Furthermore, there is a considerable difference between the quality of education found in different regions as well as between individual schools. Travel time to school is long for many children.
Lack of relevant training and low quality of education creates a major barrier to sustainable economic growth. The country’s research capacity is still very low, both in social and natural sciences and in the humanities. In addition, the collaboration between education system and labor market is weak. This, in turn, leads to low employability after graduation. Access to basic and higher education is crucial to young people's development opportunities and to poverty reduction in general in Cambodia.
The Swedish support
Sweden has since the 1980s supported programs aiming at increased access to quality primary education for poor children. Sweden has been one of the largest donors and played a major role in the education sector in Cambodia. The support has been channeled through UNICEF, among others, to support Cambodia's educational plan. The program has been successful and the number of children enrolled in primary school has increased steadily. However, many challenges remain regarding the quality of education and the number of children completing their education.
The Swedish support to the education area will be phased out until the end of June 2021.
Examples of ongoing projects (Swedish support to be phased out)
UNICEF Social Inclusion and Governance
The Social Inclusion and Governance programme aims at addressing the limited service delivery in Cambodia including low spending on social services at sub-national level, limited capacity for delivering social services and weak social accountability mechanism with limited citizen participation in local planning, budgeting and monitoring processes. A key feature of the programme is to support the government’s capital and provincial administrations, communes and sangkats to be able to improve the social assistance, and to roll out the plan to establish a cash transfer system. The intervention focuses primarily on vulnerable girls and boys, woman and families.
Career Guidance and Counselling in Secondary Schools - the Bridge to Employment
This career guidance and counselling programme is a joint venture between the Swedish National Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen), Finn Church Aid, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the National Employment Agency.
The aim of the project is to increase the participation of youth in decent work by informing about the labour market and relevant education pathways, and to enhance sustainable career development skills of Cambodian youth. The main activities are the establishment of quality career guidance and counselling services in secondary schools and in Job-Centers. The first phase of the programme will cover secondary schools in three provinces.
Capacity Development Partnership Fund (CDPF)
The CDPF, started in 2011, is a multi-donor fund and partnership between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, EU, Sweden, USAID, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF. The overall objective of CDPF is to contribute to the implementation of the Education Strategic Plan (ESP). The activities funded by CDPF are focused on improving capacity of the education system to provide inclusive and equitable access to education for all children; and to ensure effective leadership and management of education staff at all levels so that every child in the country can receive quality education.
Academy of Culinary Arts of Cambodia (ACAC) - Vocational Training
The overall objective of ACAC is to contribute to skills development and employment opportunities for Cambodian youth by establishing an international standard school that will meet the ASEAN Minimum Competency Standard for Tourism as well as the Swiss Standards for culinary education and in a broader sense help to deduce the discrepancy between the supply and demand side on the Cambodian labour market.