education officials met the Council of Ministers' Sok An August 1 to discuss a law
that will establish and regulate a new body to accredit higher education institutions.
The proposed Accreditation Committee of Cambodia will set standards to ensure quality
of the education bodies.
That should meet the demands of education professionals who complain the sector is
currently unaccountable. The proposed law, which has met with some opposition, is
likely to be approved with changes this year, said secretary of state at the Ministry
of Education Pok Than.
The draft suggested a committee chaired by the Minister of Education, four Cambodians,
and two other members, who could be foreign but must have experience in accreditation
The last point proved controversial to some ministers, and Pok Than said the foreigners
could be advisors instead.
The accreditation law is a requirement of the World Bank, which is set to provide
a $30 million loan to improve higher education. Once the law is promulgated the Bank
will release the money.
The changes are likely to be approved by the Council of Universities early August,
after which the amended draft will go to the CoM, and finally Prime Minister Hun
Higher education was discussed by national and international experts in Phnom Penh
conference on accreditation and higher education between July 31 and August 2.
Australia's former education minister John Dawkins, who spent 18 months studying
Cambodia's system for the World Bank, told attendees Cambodians needed to improve
"I certainly don't want to impose some new foreign system on Cambodia,"
he said, adding that it was possible to leave the system unchanged, but doing so
would affect the country's competitiveness. It would also result in hundreds of high
cost institutions with "indifferent standards" whose students would be
given little credibility by employers.
"The potential for chaos will be great, and the potential for disappointing
students and their parents will be enormous," he said.
Attendee Chhang Roth, a quality assurance official and an English teacher at the
Royal University, said Cambodian participation at the conference was very active,
but he noticed many stakeholders, such as parents, students and teachers, were not
involved in policymaking.