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Minister: Cambodia makes good progress in education reform

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Education minister Hang Chuon Naron speaks at the opening of the workshop on Monday. Heng Chivoan

Minister: Cambodia makes good progress in education reform

Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron stated that during the past five years of education reform, the ministry has established two models: New Generation Schools (NGS) and the introduction of an effective school-based management system.

Chuon Naron said this while attending an April 25 meeting to review the work progress of the ministry for the 2020-2021 academic year and to outline its work direction for 2022.

The minister said that in 2015, an education conference set out an “Education Reform Vision” which was based upon five pillars.

The first was the implementation of an action plan and teacher policy; the second was inspection; the third was the evaluation of education; the fourth was improvement of the curriculum and the learning environment; and the fifth was the reform of higher education.

“The 2015 education conference set out measures for the second phase of education and school reform. Over the past five years, the ministry has implemented school reform, establishing two reform models: First, the establishment of the NGS schools at the request of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Secondly, we have introduced the new management system.

The NGS are autonomous in implementing curricula to cultivate human resources with strong 21st century skills and high professional standards. They employ accountability, innovation, the use of information technology in learning and teaching, problem-solving and collaboration projects. With a focus on science and technology, they have computer labs and well-equipped science facilities. Computer coding, robotics, life skills training and professional counseling are all provided.

“NGS students learn seven core skills. First, they show initiative and entrepreneurship, the second are communication and writing skills. The third is analysis and evaluation of information, the fourth is curiosity and imagination, and the fifth is critical thinking skill. Cooperation is the sixth core skill we impart, while mental agility is the seventh,” said Naron.

He said the NGSs require a high level of investment in infrastructure and operations, averaging $100,000 per school per year.

“So far, we have established 10 NGSs – six at the secondary level and four at the primary level,” he said.

The school-based management system is based on five principles, he explained:

The first is accountability. Principals must be accountable to parents and establish school management committees and annual performance reports, evaluations and self-assessment meetings to achieve effective school standards.

The second is autonomy. Schools must plan to improve themselves to solve problems, especially to help create an environment conducive for learning, support teachers, improve school culture and ensure regular professional development through the Leadership Upgrade Programme for school directors.

The third is assessment. Tests must be standardised and graded with transparency and fairness. Results should be available to the public and parents, he said.

The fourth is to pay attention to teachers, who should use test results to improve their teaching, evaluate their performance and improve their qualifications.

The fifth is participation, meaning that parents should be involved in developing the school as well.

According to the minister, 100 schools have been selected for the reform.

He said that this year, the Education Conference decided to introduce a third phase of measures to reform the education sector. It intends to implement a management approach focused on results, which should guide systematic solutions.

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