The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has announced that from next year, parental contributions to New Generation Schools (NGSs) will no longer be obligatory. The state will fully fund the programme, allowing schools the option to accept voluntary support from donors and guardians.

As of 2023, there are 13 NGSs, comprising four primary schools and nine secondary schools across Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Svay Rieng and Prey Veng. Student numbers have risen from 434 to 9,858 since 2016, according to a December 7 press release from the ministry. 

It stated that between 2016 and 2023, the government invested a total of $12.4 million in the programme, in addition to contributions from private donors. Students from impoverished families are granted free admission.

“To continue developing human resources, the government has established the principle of ongoing development for the NGS programme. While existing NGSs are to maintain the same principles and terms, from 2024 onwards, parental contributions towards NGSs will no longer be mandatory. Instead, the state will assume responsibility for meeting the requirements of the process,” the ministry explained.

“The schools will still be able to receive voluntary donations. We aim to transform these schools into centres of excellence, accessible to all outstanding students equally,” it added.

The press release noted plans to expand the NGS project, establishing at least one school in each province, eventually covering all 25 capitals and provinces. The partnership between the state and the community will continue to support the system, focusing on curriculum monitoring, school performance and community participation.

The NGS initiative aims to provide autonomy in implementing curricula that develop 21st-century skills. It emphasises the importance of ethical and professional school management and faculty, who should be accountable, innovative and proficient in using new teaching methods and technology, as per the ministry.

So Visnu, a resident of Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district whose daughter attends an NGS on the grounds of Preah Sisowath High School, expressed his satisfaction with the ministry’s announcement. 

“From 2024, the parental contribution to the NGS will not be mandatory, relieving the burden on impoverished parents like me and reflecting the government’s commitment to enhancing the quality of education,” he said.

He noted that for the previous academic year, parents had to contribute a minimum of $330 for their children’s full-day in-person study at the NGS, or $600 for online studies, which include four hours of home learning and three hours in school per day.

Kong Samneang, head of the Federation of Education Services in Cambodia (FESC), endorsed the ministry’s policy to continue developing the NGS system, highlighting its role in supporting Cambodian human resources. 

He praised the NGS’s standards and success, which he attributed to the teachers and school management’s ability to plan and instruct effectively. He encouraged the ministry to expand these educational plans.

“The NGS boasts modern and new classrooms, designed to cater to students’ learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM]. The high-quality STEM education provided is elevating Cambodia’s education to a level comparable with that of other countries in our region,” he added.