Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - School infrastructure issues on kids’ minds

School infrastructure issues on kids’ minds

Students at Dong Plet Primary School in Preah Vihear province.
Students at Dong Plet Primary School in Preah Vihear province. Hong Menea

School infrastructure issues on kids’ minds

Nearly 90 percent of Cambodian children interviewed in a new global survey said they would first renovate school facilities and create quality learning environments if they were given the reins of the education budget, a sharp contrast with the 56 percent of children in other developing countries who shared the same top priority.

Conducted by international aid group ChildFund Alliance, the Small Voices, Big Dreams study released yesterday surveyed more than 6,000 children aged between 10 and 12 in 41 countries – including 152 in Cambodia – on their views on education and safety in school.

The study found that 88 percent of Cambodian children would put improving school infrastructure at the top of their agenda if they were the country’s leader, almost twice the global percentage.

“[If I were the leader of Cambodia], I will fill school area with more soil to avoid flood,” said 10-year-old Sina, a survey respondent.

According to Orn Sophalla, executive director of Building Bridges for Children – an NGO working in partnership with seven primary schools to improve education for children – the figures are a reflection of the unequal plights and needs of children around the world.

“Having good school facilities and environment would be important to [Cambodian] children because it’s something a lot of them don’t get to enjoy, especially children in rural areas,” he said.

Prashant Verma, country director of ChildFund Cambodia, said the different aspirations of local and global children can be attributed to countries’ different starting points. “Looking at Cambodia’s history, we had to start from zero about 20 years ago, whereas other countries have very established education systems,” he said.

While Verma was quick to point out that there had been “rapid and positive reforms” to the country’s education system in the past five to 10 years, Sophalla maintained that current government efforts to improve school facilities and learning environments remain “very limited”, adding that they are typically left in the hands of “NGOs or rich people who can support school projects”.

“The government just focuses on supplies for basic functioning of the school, not the overall learning environment,” Sophalla said, adding that government funding is typically allotted to purchasing resources such as whiteboard markers, tables, books and “all the small things”.

Ministry spokesman Ros Salin did not respond to requests for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,