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The Political Economy of Primary Education Reform in Cambodia


Over the past sixty years, Cambodia has made great strides in expanding access to primary education. Much less progress has been made with respect to quality. That may be changing, however, with a new education minister promoting ambitious reforms with quality at their centre. The chapter explains the quality agenda as a product of new demands on the country’s political settlement, in which continued dominance of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) rests in part on ongoing economic transformation and job creation—for which a better-educated workforce is a prerequisite. With a politically enfeebled opposition, the CPP has the benefit of being able to plan for the long term in this regard. At the same time, the personalized nature of its settlement, in which weak state organs are permeated by rent-seeking factions, will make delivering on quality an uphill struggle.

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