English-language students will find studying easier following the publication of
a new textbook designed specifically for Cambodians.
Created by the Phnom Penh University English and Education Project the publication
took three years to write and revise. The books were given to the Secretary of State
for Education, Youth and Sports Mom Chim Huy on Dec 17.
At a ceremony, Australian Ambassador John Holloway presented 50,000 copies - one
for every two students - and 300 copies of a teachers' manual - one for every English-language
teacher in Cambodia.
"This is a part of the concrete expression of the recognition of Cambodians'
desire to learn English," the ambassador said.
There have been accusations in the Khmer press about the lack of educational material
coming from the English-speaking community.
Supported by the Australian Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB), the textbook was
produced in coordination with the International Development Program of Australian
Universities (IDP) and the University of Canberra.
Its 280 pages are illustrated with drawings of typical Cambodian houses and domestic
situations, showing women in sampots, men in rice paddies and buffaloes with wats
in the background.
Secretary of State Mom Chim Huy praised the textbook and AIDAB.
He said the Ministry aims to introduce teacher training centers in each of the 21
"We need 5,000 teachers and 10,000 classrooms to introduce obligatory education
of nine years duration for all children by the year 2000," he said.
Currently there is 22 percent illiteracy among men and 30 percent among women.
Australia has responded not only to the urgent need for textbooks but also for teacher
With funding from AIDAB, the University of Phnom Penh, started a three-year Bachelor
of Education project in mid-1993 for teaching English as a first foreign language.
Australian team leader Geoffrey Coyne said 3,000 students sat the examination to
do the B.Ed. and130 were selected.
A lack of education showed among female candidates.
"So few women sat for the exam," said Coyne, "that only 20 have been
"It was unfortunate, as women make such good teachers, and we try to run an
affirmative action program here," he added.