WB Provides US$90 Million to Support Improvement of Higher Education in Cambodia

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved yesterday US$90 million in financing to support Cambodia's efforts in improving the quality of higher education and research in the country and broadening access to higher education for disadvantaged students, according to a World Bank's press release AKP received this morning.

We welcome World Bank support in higher education and research, which is well aligned with the priorities of our Industrial Development Policy for 2015-2025, said Senior Minister, H.E. Aun Pornmoniroth, Minister of Economy and Finance. This project will help us establish a holistic strategy for higher education development and enable Cambodian graduates to meet the rapid demands and increasing opportunities � for mobility and technology transfer � of the ASEAN Economic Community and beyond.

Over the next six years, the Higher Education Institutions Capacity Improvement Project will strive to improve the quality of education and research at targeted institutions, broaden access to higher education, and improve governance in the sector.

The focus on science, technology, engineering, mathematics � otherwise known as STEM � as well as agriculture, is expected to equip Cambodian graduates with more relevant and transferrable skills that can support the country transition from a labour-intensive economy to one driven by knowledge.

The project's five key activities include: providing research funds in the priority subject areas; expanding classrooms and laboratories; building dormitories for disadvantaged students (such as students from poor households and remote areas, as well as female students); strengthening quality assurance and information systems; and working with international partners to improve the curriculum and methodology of the priority subject areas.

The dormitories are planned for Phnom Penh, and the schools that will be expanded are in Battambang and Svay Rieng provinces.

Building high-quality research capacity and preparing a critical mass of highly-skilled graduates of tertiary education is a priority for both Cambodia and the Bank. Actions taken now can help Cambodia advance in human capital and strengthen the effectiveness of higher education, said Ms. Inguna Dobraja, the World Bank's Country Manager for Cambodia. This project follows significant recent gains by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in building Cambodia's capacity to meet the needs of labour markets in a rapidly changing environment.

Financed by the International Development Association, the project also follows the Higher Education Quality and Capacity Improvement project, which from 2010 to 2017 built a foundation of sectoral capacity and created a policy environment conducive to more investment.

Education sector remains a priority of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Up to now, the country has 116 higher education institutions, 486 high schools, 1,240 lower secondary schools and 7,144 primary schools.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, over 400,000 children under five years old and more than 200,000 children aged 5 years old had access to all forms of education services. In the same period, there were some 2 million students registered at the state-owned primary schools, 600,000 students at lower secondary schools, and 300,000 students at high schools across the country. Moreover, 20,000 students have been pursuing their associate's degree; 160,000 students, their bachelor's degree; 20,000, their Master's degree; and 1,000 students, their doctorate degree.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press