Khuon Vicheka, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, highlighted an increase in the number of female candidates registered for this year’s high school diploma examinations.

She said the surge is a testament to the ministry’s dedication to promoting girls’ education through outreach programmes across the country.

Vicheka said inclusive human capital development is key to achieving sustainable socio-economic growth as Cambodia aims to become a upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income one by 2050.

“The increase reflects the positive outcome of collaborative efforts by the ministry and its partners to ensure equal access to education. Girls are free to pursue their studies without hindrance. Transforming Cambodia into a high-income nation by 2050 necessitates the active participation of all citizens, including girls and women, who share equal rights with their male counterparts,” she said, adding that female enrolment rates have risen significantly over the years.

Vicheka also noted the strong performance by female students, as evidenced by a consistent increase in Grade A among them in recent years.

Education minister Hang Chuon Naron, speaking at a recent press conference on the upcoming high school diploma exams scheduled for November 6-7, pointed out that the number of female candidates continues to surpass their male counterparts. Out of the 137,412 candidates registered for this year’s exams, 73,278 are women, more than half of the total.

This year’s science exams feature 41,379 candidates nationwide, 24,789 of them female. Additionally, 96,033 candidates have registered for social sciences subjects, with 48,489 female.

Pech Bolen, president of the Phnom Penh-based Westline Education Group, attributed the rising number of female students to collaborative agreements involving the ministries of education and women’s affairs and local authorities. He also acknowledged the contribution of the numerous organisations which have engaged in outreach efforts to promote equal access to education.

“Providing quality education to young women not only empowers them, but also their families and the nation as a whole. It enables them to contribute to the national economic growth and the overall well-being of the populace.

Education, previously limited culturally to boys and men, has opened up new opportunities for girls and women, who are increasingly determined to pursue education,” he said.

Bolen acknowledged that while examination results may indicate a pass or fail, the outcome of the diploma exams should not be the sole determinant of one’s lifelong development.

“Successfully passing the examination can lead to higher education at the university level, it is true. However, even if one doesn’t achieve a passing grade, alternative paths, such as pursuing an associate degree or vocational school, remain accessible. What’s essential is acquiring knowledge and skills that will unlock employment opportunities and the development of a strong character to navigate life’s challenges and lead a successful future,” he said.

Bolen encouraged the youth to cultivate a deep love for the nation and to understand the important roles they will go on to play in driving the economy.