The Ministry of Education has proposed the creation of three new departments, including one for special education, a move applauded by NGOs yesterday, though some questioned whether enough funding would be available.
The government yesterday reviewed and approved a draft sub-decree that establishes the Department of Special Education, the Department of Examination Affairs and the Department of Information Technology, government spokesman Phay Siphan confirmed.
Neither Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron nor ministry spokesman Ros Salin could be reached yesterday.
Students with disabilities have long been neglected, NGOs said, and the new Department of Special Education in particular stands to make positive changes, but only if it’s properly funded, said Aide et Action’s Lam Socheat, head of the Cambodian Consortium for Out-of-School Children.
“Budgets will be a challenge,” he said. Special education “costs a lot. They [the government] need more support. It’s a concern because a lot of children drop out.”
The Department of Special Education would streamline services, currently under other departments, and would hopefully expand services to all levels of education, Socheat said. Currently services are mainly focused at the primary level, and most of them come from NGOs.
But whether the proposed department would make a difference remains to be seen, said Chin Chanveasna, executive director for the NGO Education Partnership.
“We are not sure yet, until we see the mandate for the department,” he said. “We have to explore more with the Ministry of Education.”
Chanveasna said his organisation would like more information to find ways for NGOs to collaborate with the ministry on the new development because the government lacks proper resources.
Government spokesman Siphan said the Ministry of Education will need to request a budget allocation from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, though details of the costs were not available yesterday.
Hervé Roqueplan, special and inclusive education advisor for Krousar Thmey, called the development “very good news”.
“It shows commitment.”