The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport is working in conjunction with Unesco and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT) to launch an internet-based education programme for Cambodian youths in grades seven to nine who have dropped out of school.
The Basic Education Equivalency Programme (Beep) is intended to give the grade seven to nine dropouts a chance to complete an equivalent of a grade nine education which will then enable them to enrol in MLVT’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training programme (Tvet).
Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Soveacha said both Beep and Tvet programmes are free.
“[Beep] gives dropouts a chance to receive free education. Upon successful completion, they will achieve an equivalent of a primary school certificate and then they can enrol in Tvet programmes of their choice,” he said.
There are 11 skills offered by the BEEP, including entrepreneurship, English and Information Technology. Soveacha said Beep also offers flexibility for dropouts.
“Students can learn online from home or whenever they are free. But before they enrol in the programme, they must first consult the Beep management team and counsellors at the institute,” he said.
He was referring to the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), which has been made the first institution to officially launch Beep as a pilot project starting February 10.
Soveacha said the ministry plans to offer the programme at nine more centres throughout the country.
“First we will make it available at five institutions in Phnom Penh, and then we will operate five more in Siem Reap province,” he said, adding that each centre will provide tablet computers for students.
Santosh Khatri, Chief of Education at Unesco Cambodia, said the UN body will work closely with the Ministry of Education on the project.
“We have assisted the Ministry of Education in organising the programme. Learners have to finish [an equivalent of] grade nine and then pursue training organised by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training."
“We support the programmes because . . . the number of students moving from primary to secondary education is still low. Those who did not complete primary education dropped out due to financial constraints. The programme aims to offer flexibility for them,” he said.
Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour said: “We have been implementing the bridging course programme that includes Khmer literature, chemistry, physics, mathematics, gender study and basic skills.
“Upon completion, they can enrol in programmes at any vocational training institutions,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Education’s figures for the academic year 2017-18, the number of secondary school dropouts (grade seven to nine) nationwide totalled 16.6 per cent, with female pupils making up the majority, at 14.2 per cent.
The number of primary school dropouts (grade one to six) stood at 4.7 per cent, with female pupils making up 3.5 per cent.
The number of high school dropouts (grade 10 to 12) during the same period totalled 19.7 per cent, with female students making up the majority at 17 per cent.