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Education summit opens


The National Education Congress will cover progress made at all levels of education as well as persistent problems.

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School children are the focus of a 3-day congress.  

AS THEY marked the beginning of a national education summit Monday, officials and development partners described an education system that has made recent gains in recruiting hard-to-reach students but is still grappling with quality and retention issues. 

The National Education Congress brings more than 200 government officials, NGO members and development partners together for three days of programming at the National Institute of Education. Scheduled events include reports on progress made in the past year and discussions of future reform strategies. The summit coincides with the release of a report from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport detailing its performance during the 2007-08 academic year.

Presentations and discussions will address topics including enrolment and dropout targets for the current school year, teacher training at all education levels and aid effectiveness.

Remaining challenges

"While Cambodia has made remarkable progress in the expansion of access to education over the past 10 years, the quality of education remains a major issue across the sector," said Richard Bridle, a UNICEF representative who spoke on behalf of development partners.  

Noting that higher education institutions had experienced "a tenfold increase in enrolment" without "a concurrent increase in qualified lecturers and administrative staff", Bridle called on participants to develop solutions to this and other problems facing post-secondary programs.

In addition to improving quality, participants should also devise strategies to further expand enrolment, said Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Im Sethy.

Universal primary enrolment by 2010 is one target under Cambodia's Millennium Development Goals pertaining to education. At the time of the 2005 MDG assessment, 93 percent of boys and 90.7 percent of girls were enrolled, according to Ministry of Planning figures.

The summit will conclude Wednesday with a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen.



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