A six month project involving PINZ consultants has delivered recommendations designed to encourage more Cambodian students to continue with post-primary school study and reduce drop-out rates for those already enrolled in lower secondary education.
The initiative was funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and involved national and international PINZ consultants, led by Andrew Jones. Andrew has years of experience living and working in Cambodia.
The project arose, says Andrew, mainly out of concern about drop-out rates in the first three years of secondary education (Grades Seven to Nine) with one out of every five students failing to complete Grade Nine. Overall, two out of three adolescents at lower secondary age are not attending school at all.
Andrew says the situation results from a complex mix of factors, especially in rural and remote areas, including parental attitudes about the value of education, the need for young people to contribute to family well being by working and no family funds to cover school costs, exam fees or the extra tuition some students need to pass.
The Cambodian Government also wants to improve access to lower secondary education and is putting around half of the ADB loan of US$30 million into upgrading existing schools and building new ones.
The PINZ team recommended the design of a drop-out intervention programme based on international best practise and including measures such as better recording of absenteeism and follow-up with their families and in-school support for students at risk of failing.
The team also advised on implementing a programme of school leadership and management training for school directors in Cambodia’s 24 provinces and made recommendations around the distribution and management of programme budget funds to schools.
The project design also includes employment skills policy and curriculum work as a way of making lower secondary education more relevant to young people, many of whom will enter the workforce as adolescents.
Andrew says the team was made up of highly skilled individuals who had relevant experience in the education sector in Cambodia. “Team members added considerable value to the project design and were able to complement each other’s knowledge and skill sets,” he says.