Thnal Udom Chomnes: Reimagining Future Education of Cambodia
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about educational disruptions from pre-school to higher education in Cambodia and around the world. Although the impact of the pandemic in Cambodia was relatively low in comparison to other countries in the region and the world in 2020, and schools were able to reopen its door again in early 2021, the February 20, 2021 incident has resulted in exponential increases in case numbers and once again educational institutions were forced to shut down completely. Thanks to great efforts by the Royal Government of Cambodia, in particular the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), and with strong support from development partners, students were able to continue learning remotely through alternative means such as online learning or national TV and radio broadcastings.
Nevertheless, not all students and teachers are ready for the transition to educational technology adoption can fully reap its benefits. Research conducted by CDRI with teaching staff and students at selected higher education institutes (HEIs) in 2020 suggest that educational technology does help keep the learning going on, but the level of adoptions greatly varies. Covid-19 is likely to have widened the digital divide between the rich and the poor and between urban and rural students. Similar findings in general education are reported in the joint Covid-19 assessment conducted by UNICEF and its partnered NGOs in 2020. It found that only 70% of students engaged in some form of alternative distance learning and only 35% of them had access to online learning materials. Major barriers to distance learning include financial issues, poor internet connection in rural areas, lack of parental support. The covid-19 has proved that our education systems are far from resilient to uncertainty and shocks. Given that the marginalized groups are more sensitive to unexpected shocks, there is a need to build back a more resilient and inclusive education system that can ensure equal learning opportunities for marginalized and vulnerable students. Blended learning or online learning is expected to remain a part of learning and teaching even after the situation return to normal.
In alignment with the MoEYS’s priorities to build back a resilience education system after the Covid-19 and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)’s commitment to generate new knowledge and ideas that can contribute to public policy discussion between think tanks, civil society, and the government under the “Ponlok Chomnes: Data and Dialogue for Development”, CDRI would like to propose a partnership program called “Thnal Udom Chomnes: Reimagining the Future of Cambodia Education”.
The programme objectives are as follows:
- To produce independent, high-quality and policy-relevant research papers, backed by scientific evidence, to influence education reforms in Cambodia,
- To promote research culture in Cambodia and beyond through capacity building and research exchange activities,
- To build the knowledge, skills and capacity of CDRI in its effort to become a leading institute of development policy research, locally and regionally, and
- To establish collaborative partnerships and networks for policy and scholarship dialogue and research between CDRI and relevant stakeholders both within and outside Cambodia, including government agencies, schools and universities, civil society organizations, the private sector and development partners.