Competency-Based TVET in Cambodia: Promise and Reality
Modernisation brings new economic and social challenges around the globe. In this era of the knowledge economy, knowledge and skills have become valuable assets for national development. Many countries have been working out how best to enhance their knowledge and skills pool. Focus has recently turned to competency-based training (CBT), which is believed to enrich students with practical competencies relevant to labour market needs and thus enhance their productivity and, ultimately, national economic growth. The CBT is characterised by a student-centred approach and module-based course with a set of core competencies guiding the selection of course contents and activities, while learning is self-paced and individualised.
The introduction of CBT in Cambodia has brought many new challenges that need to be addressed by all stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT) and development partners, yet there has been no empirical research how the implementation of the CBT program has been conducted in Cambodia. The study was informed by various curriculum development and implementation models, which generally involve three steps: curriculum development (selecting contents and learning experiences), curriculum implementation (teaching and learning approaches), and curriculum evaluation. The study employed a qualitative approach to explore the development and implementation of Cambodia’s CBT program. Ten semi-structured interviews with directors and deputy directors of TVET institutions were also conducted.
The study obtained many prominent results related to the perspectives and experiences of the three stakeholder groups. Four main themes emerged from the data: knowledge, skills, attitudes, challenges and solutions. Regardless of the challenges encountered during the implementation of CBT, all the stakeholders maintained positive attitudes towards CBT as they understood its benefits. It was reported that students learn better from CBT than in a traditional classroom setting as they have more time to practice and develop their competencies. Second, students were involved in actual practice as they were assigned to undertake their study in real workplaces in the form of internship. Finally, because competencies were established based on thorough examination of labour market needs, students in the CBT program graduated with competencies that were directly relevant to the labour market, which should help close skills gaps.