The Education Unit was established almost a year ago to bring related funding and grants under one roof to support innovative research with potential to improve education in Cambodia. To maximise the impact and effectiveness of education policy research and dialogue, the Unit works in coordination and consultation with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and its Directorate General of Higher Education, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MOLVT) and its Directorate General of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and the Ministry of Tourism (MOT). Core areas of focus are education system reform, technical and vocational education and training, and teaching and learning quality.
Four commissioned studies on general education were completed. These include a Baseline Survey of Training Needs Assessment in Northern Provinces of Cambodia, a collaborative project with the Economics Unit, for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The results were used to design SDC’s Skills Development Program being implemented in Kratie, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces. Research activities involved capacity building and a policy dialogue on professional education and training. The final report and findings were shared with the Coordination Working Group on TVET at MOLVT. Three projects on higher education and vocational education and training are ongoing.
Research outputs include two articles titled “Stakeholder Involvement in Primary Education Reform in Cambodia” and “Learning from Literature: A Review of Higher Education in Cambodia” published in the Cambodia Development Review. A paper on “The Political Economy of Primary Education Reform in Cambodia” is being prepared for publication in an international journal.
As a strategic priority, the new team has facilitated communication networks, information sharing and capacity development. A Higher Learning Hub was set up in early 2015 to serve as a focal point for academic leaders in higher education to enrich dialogue and debate, promote research and training, and provide innovative concepts and best practices to enable universities to fulfil their academic and social roles. Activities involved a series of mini-retreats with academic leaders on the themes “University for What?” “Dream University” and “Science for Cambodia”, and a training program for science faculty members on “Blended Learning”.
Particular focus has been placed on partnership development. Collaborations have been established with educational research centres at Hiroshima University, University of Malaya, University of Western Ontario, and the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne. A memorandum of understanding between CDRI and the Korean Education Development Institute, signed in December, aims to facilitate joint research projects, organise study tours/exposure visits and promote the mutual exchange of research knowledge, skills and experience.
Professional development activities involved a working visit to Switzerland by a group of delegates from MOLVT, MOT, Ministry of Economy and Finance and Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association, led by the Unit Head, to learn at first-hand from the Swiss TVET system. A research assistant benefitted from a research exchange visit to the University of Western Ontario, and researchers attended a Capacity Development Workshop for GMS Institutions in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Northeast Asia Development Cooperation Forum in Tokyo, Japan. Academic enrichment activities for junior researchers and interns involved training workshops on data management, data analysis and grant writing.