NGOs tackling education issues in Cambodia yesterday launched a campaign urging the government to bump education spending to 20 per cent of the country’s national budget in order to improve what they characterised as a beleaguered system.
The budget for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport stands at 18.3 per cent of the national budget of $4.3 billion for 2016, said Chin Chanveasna, executive director for the NGO Education Partnership.
The figure, confirmed by government officials, reached that level after this year’s 28 per cent increase, bringing the ministry’s total budget to about $502 million.
“In the past few years, the budget for education has been increased, but we believe that the budget allocation is not enough to address the current needs of education,” Chanveasna said.
The campaign is calling for the increase to be made next year, and for it to be maintained indefinitely. However, Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Salin said that given current trends, the 20 per cent benchmark could more realistically be achieved in two years.
A greater boost in funding would lead to higher enrolment and a decrease in students dropping out of school, said San Chey, executive director for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in Cambodia. But the ministry also needs to give schools more flexibility to meet local demands, he noted.
“I saw a school requesting to have toilets, and it took three years.” he said, adding that the money eventually came from private donors.