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Higher education reform gets $90M

University students attend a graduation ceremony on Koh Pich in 2015. The World Bank on Friday announced $90 million in financing for a project to improve the higher education sector in Cambodia.
University students attend a graduation ceremony on Koh Pich in 2015. The World Bank on Friday announced $90 million in financing for a project to improve the higher education sector in Cambodia. Heng Chivoan

Higher education reform gets $90M

Cambodia's higher education sector – which education officials last month said lacks a clear vision – will undergo improvements under a six-year project financed by a $90 million no-interest loan from the World Bank.

The World Bank on Friday announced that its board of executive directors had approved the financial support for the project, which will help improve access to and quality of education and research, as well as strengthen the governance of higher education institutions.

Experts in the past have said the country’s universities are ill-equipped to properly prepare students with the skills needed upon graduation.

The project also aims to expand universities in Battambang and Svay Rieng provinces, and there are plans to build dormitories in Phnom Penh, according to the announcement.

Bou Saroeun, spokesman for the World Bank, said the funding will have to be repaid, but without interest. A team with the World Bank will work closely with the Ministry of Education to oversee the project.

“The World Bank has a task team and a team that supports those projects with the implementing ministries to make sure that the project follows the agreement and the scope that the World Bank and the government agreed [on],” he said.

Saroeun said “based on the need of the country, we see the potential of this project”.

Mak Ngoy, director general for higher education at the Ministry of Education, and Rey Sopheak, deputy director general for higher education, declined to comment.

Ros Salin, spokesman for the ministry, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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