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 to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • PM's Bodyguard commander hits back at US

    The commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit (BGU) Hing Bun Heang on Sunday dismissed a short video clip that went viral on social media in which he says he is preparing for a war with the United States over its aggressiveness towards