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New emphasis on grammar in school

Students sit an exam in Phnom Penh earlier this year. The Ministry of Education announced last week that students would be subject to dictation exams in the academic year 2015-2016.
Students sit an exam in Phnom Penh earlier this year. The Ministry of Education announced last week that students would be subject to dictation exams in the academic year 2015-2016. Hong Menea

New emphasis on grammar in school

Cambodian high school students will now be subject to regular dictation tests to instil an understanding of Khmer grammar, according to the Ministry of Education.

The new curriculum, announced on Wednesday and to be introduced in the current academic year, will see students in grades 7 to 12 take up to 45 minutes of dictation daily.

“This is a significant skill in studying Cambodian and Khmer literature. It will help students to be more cautious and to remember spelling, grammar and essay writing conventions,” the ministry said in a statement.

The acting president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Ouk Chhayavy, expressed her support for including dictation in nationwide curricula and examinations, noting that over the past decade there has been little focus on adhering to correct grammar and spelling.

“I do not underestimate their ability, but they do not do it,” she explained. “Youths in this generation are smart in modern society, but their national language has been lost.”

Chhayavy suggested the ministry also include dictation from primary school. According to the Ministry of Planning, the annual rate of increase in literacy among 15-year-olds slowed to just 2 per cent from 2008 and 2013, compared to 10 per cent annually in the 10 years prior.

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