Cambodia’s Emerging Bilingual Education Programs—Success in a System in Crisis
This chapter explores the events that shaped Cambodia’s educational system into its present state as well as current efforts at educational reform. The dearth of qualified teachers resulting from the Cambodian genocide has had a lasting impact on all levels of education. Teachers at all levels lack deep content understanding so resort to didactic teaching methods emphasizing rote memorization. There are few up-to-date advanced textbooks in Khmer so university students wishing to study advanced topics must do so in a foreign language (usually English). No public universities offer doctoral degrees in STEM fields so Cambodian STEM students must be proficient enough in English to study in other countries. This situation along with lingering xenophobia leaves Cambodia’s 25 language minority populations largely unserved. In 2002, several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) began bilingual programs to serve remote tribes whose communities lacked access to schools. After several years, the Ministry of Education adopted NGO models for bilingual education and worked with NGOs to expand bilingual education. In 2013, the Cambodian government enacted a law that allowed the use of indigenous languages in formal schooling on the condition that Khmer is not ignored. Additional ministry reforms target the English proficiency Cambodians need to study abroad or work in international corporations. The author will describe her role as part of current STEM education reform efforts at the university level.
KeywordsEducation reform Bilingual education STEM education Cambodian education
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