Cambodia is poised to initiate a widespread transfer of educational functions to local administrations from January 2024, aiming to uplift nationwide academic standards. This move was announced by Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, marking the commencement of the sub-decree’s implementation.

The event, hosted on September 22 at the Ministry of Interior and organised by the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD), saw participation from 620 stakeholders, including representatives from relevant ministries, state institutions, sub-national governing bodies and development partners.

The initiative follows sub-decree No. 213, issued on July 28, which underpins the transfer of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport’s operations to municipal, district and commune authorities.

Chuon Naron detailed that the action would particularly affect early childhood learning, primary schooling and informal academic programmes. General education, on the other hand, will consign only functions related to governance, with the technical department of the ministry retaining responsibility.

He explained that this comprehensive shift aims to address identified challenges and expand the decentralisation of these key areas.

Sar Sokha, minister of interior and chairman of NCDD, commended the active participation of all parties in implementing the reform plan.

He emphasised the initiative’s importance for advancing the calibre and efficiency of public services, thereby enhancing the quality of life for citizens.

“Education is considered the most important priority and a foundation for human resource enhancement, which is an indispensable condition for the sustainable growth of the nation,” Sokha stated.

The move follows Prime Minister Hun Manet’s emphasis on improving standards of learning at the first meeting of the Council of Ministers for the 7th mandate on August 24. Manet prioritised strengthening school governance and tailoring curricula and extracurricular activities to meet student needs.

He noted the discrepancy in study hours between public schools in-country and those in neighbouring nations and proposed extracurricular programmes to extend opportunities.

Manet also advocated for increased engagement from parents, guardians, communities and local authorities in academic affairs, under the slogan “Partnership, State and Community for Education”.