The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport first rolled out its “New Generation Schools” (NGS) in 2016, and there are currently 11 such institutions operating across the Kingdom.
Although they are state schools, students have the option to pay tuition fees for both morning and evening shifts, in order to access laboratories where they can experience practical classes, most notably in the science curriculum.
Chhom Sopheak, principal of Prek Leap High School, a new generation school in Phnom Penh, told The Post that the modern curriculum is offered to students studying from grades seven to twelve, with students required to attend both morning and afternoon sessions.
The programme is supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport, as well as the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
The aim of implementing the new generation programme is to showcase the potential of a quality education and educate the community about its value.
Sopheak explained that new generation class sizes are limited to between 32 and 36 students, an improvement on traditional state schools.
Applicants are required to take an admission test, in order to ensure their individual levels are clearly understood by their teachers.
“We don’t focus on outstanding students, but make sure we understand exactly what each student will require to get the best out of the programme,” he said.
He added that while the students study full time, they are not required to attend extra classes, although additional tutoring is offered to any child who is struggling.
Teachers identify students who need extra assistance and provide tutoring to help them overcome their shortcomings in particular subject.
This is particularly im-portant for foundation subjects like Khmer literature or mathematics.
He said new generation schools in general are designed with subject-specific classrooms.
The science subjects, which are experimental in nature, are conducted in laboratories, which are equipped with the necessary equipment to meet the research needs of the students.
A sub-committee of the National Board evaluates the school, and if the evaluation is successful, the school may become autonomous and would need to find funding sources to sustain the programme.
The parents of students are obligated to contribute to a budget which supports the programme.
This policy provides teachers with additional funding support beyond the state budget, as an incentive for their participation.
“At my school, parents contribute $260 per year. However, if a family is facing financial difficulties, the parents can meet with the school management committee to discuss the matter,” said Sopheak.
He takes great pride in the establishment of the new generation schools, which are in line with the government’s rectangular strategy. Although it may be challenging for the teachers, they are enthusiastic about it, as they understand the way that student’s learning outcomes correlate with national development.
He believed that the students in his new generation school are capable of competing with any other student body, both nationally and internationally, and this delights him.
“The school has equipped the students with 21st-century skills, enabling them to pursue higher education.
They are well-prepared to face new challenges, and as a result, students from Prek Leap High School’s new generation school have won numerous accolades, including gold, silver, and bronze medals, as well as appreciation certificates, in both domestic and international competitions,” he said.
Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said that in addition to the capital, new generation school programmes have been launched in four provinces, with four in Kampong Cham province alone.
The ministry has also established a new generation pedagogical research center at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh.
“The programme aims to enhance the efficiency of the education system and promote social equity in the teaching and learning process, with an appropriate resource allocation system to improve education services.
“We are seeking to improve teaching standards through innovative approaches, such as competitive teacher recruitment with task-based incentives.
“We employ STEM methods and offer specific teaching career paths linked to professional development opportunities for teachers,” he said.