Pictures of police guarding schools, preventing people from throwing documents into exam rooms, become normal for public eyes. It looks funny sometimes, but it really provides a bad image of Cambodian culture and education and also creates conditions for economic failure.
The practice is a sign of weakness in the country's education system. A culture of bribery is introduced and promoted that strongly discourages the culture of competition among students. Putting effort into study is not as important as being able to find suitable ways to bribe for certificates. It also reverses any results from the government's efforts to develop the education sector.
Poor education leads to poor human resources. This is serious because all development can be done sustainably only if Cambodia has her own strong human capital.
Insufficient education causes high unemployment and this is currently true. Thousands of students graduated from universities and high schools are not able to get jobs. Besides, the job market is small, but the level of knowledge and experience demanded from recruiting companies and institutions has become higher. Students cannot adapt or respond to this based on what they learned from their schools.
Weak human resource influences economic growth. Cambodia remarkably integrates into world and regional markets and this requires competition in most sectors. Human capital is one of them. Cambodia loses competitiveness in the labour market, especially with neighbouring countries when the country's citizens have poor knowledge.
However, there is good news to make education better. The ongoing government's willingness is very vital but speeding up the pace of reforms would be a major development and is much needed. The government should eliminate any problems, such as bribery in exams, which slow down their efforts.
An active Cambodian media, especially broadcast media, in promoting morality among the public would be very helpful in promoting education. The media have great chances to educate the public that committing bribery or cheating in schools means the same thing as burning their children's future. This kind of morality is absolutely necessary in Cambodians' minds.
The other supplement in raising education standards is globalisation. The phenomenon brings educational resources and communication technologies that ease Cambodian students' study and research. For instance, the internet could link students to world resources and it also keeps them informed of latest development in sectors they are interested in. The question of how much Cambodian students could benefit from those new resources and technologies is another issue that should not be ignored.
Master of media and journalism and globalisation
City University, London