Prime Minister Hun Sen has called for research into the gender gap of high school examination results. Seventy-eight per cent of female candidates passed the recent baccalaureate exams, while only 22 per cent of their male counterparts achieved the same result.
The premier said that of the over 120,000 candidates who sat the exams, more than 90,000 passed, an excellent result of 72.33 per cent. What was concerning, however, was the wide disparity between the sexes.
He was addressing the 1,049 students who earned an A grade in last year’s exams.
“Seventy-eight per cent of young women passed, while only 22 per cent of young men did. Why? Research needs to be conducted to ascertain how this happened. Is it because young men like to socialise while female students are staying home and studying?
“These figures suggest a serious problem. The gap is widening at an alarming rate, and I want to know whether the education ministry has examined this issue or not,” he said.
Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron told the prime minister that the trend was a global one.
Hun Sen responded by asking what could be done to reverse the trend.
“If female students are able to achieve such excellent results, what can we do to ensure that our young men can compete with them? We need to find solutions to this problem,” he said.
He added that he wanted the ministry to conduct analysis into the data surrounding the results.
“Some provinces had a high number of A grade female students, and some were very low. We need to understand the factors that have shaped these results,” he said.
“If we don’t have a clear understanding of what is driving these outcomes, then it will be difficult to devise a strategy to reverse them. Before prescribing medication, a doctor needs to know what symptoms a patient has. Without an exact diagnosis, a doctor cannot treat an illness. This is why we need to conduct research,” he added.
The premier awarded incentive rewards to each of the A grade students, including two million riel in cash, an iPad, educational books and an ancient Khmer coin, minted in 1514.
He also awarded more than 200 outstanding teachers, handing each of them one million riel ($250) and two educational texts. Each of the more than 300 schools whose students earned A grades was also awarded 3 million riel.
“The ministry will begin studying the gender gap and its causes immediately,” education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha told The Post.