According to the World Bank, Cambodia is the poorest ASEAN country (2016) – 35% of Cambodians live in poverty (UNDP, 2018), and 4.5 million people are near-poor, or vulnerable to poverty (World Bank, 2019).
Cambodia’s education system has continued to improve alongside the country’s economic development, but it is still far below international standards.
of 3 to 5 year olds are on track in literacy and numeracy (UNICEF, 2019)
of students have dropped out of school by age 15 (UNICEF, 2019)
attend upper secondary (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport Public Education Statistics & Indicators 2016-2017)
In Siem Reap province, only 8.8% of children attend preschool, 65.3% attend primary school, 17.7% attend lower secondary, and 8.2% attend upper secondary (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport Public Education Statistics & Indicators 2016-2017).
One key problem is that public school students only attend classes for half the day. While some families are able to pay for their children to attend private daycares or classes for the rest of the day, high fees make these programs inaccessible to poor families. Parents are forced to choose whether to earn money or watch their children, and children don’t learn the skills they need to reach their full potential and succeed at school and beyond.
Cambodia has committed to addressing these problems through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 4, about quality education, calls for universal, free primary and secondary education, equal access to early childhood development and care, and equal access to affordable and quality vocational and tertiary education.