សារគន្លឹះ / Key Messages:
- ដោយសារការងារភាគច្រើននៅក្នុងប្រទេសកម្ពុជា មានកម្រិតជំនាញទាប ការលើកកម្ពស់គុណភាពធនធានមនុស្ស និងការផ្លាស់ប្តូរការយកចិត្តទុកដាក់ពីបរិមាណការងារ ទៅគុណភាពការងារ គឺជាតម្រូវការបន្ទាន់។
- ការលើកកម្ពស់គុណភាពអប់រំកម្រិតមូលដ្ឋាននៅកម្ពុជា មានសារៈសំខាន់ណាស់ សម្រាប់ការ បណ្តុះប្រជាពលរដ្ឋឱ្យមានចំណេះដឹងគ្រប់គ្រាន់ ដើម្បីអាចឆ្លើយតបទៅនឹងទីផ្សារការងារដែលមានការផ្លាស់ប្តូរយ៉ាងឆាប់រហ័ស។
- ក្នុងការធ្វើសមាហរណកម្មបច្ចេកវិទ្យាក្នុងវិស័យអប់រំប្រកបដោយប្រសិទ្ធភាព ចាំបាច់ត្រូវធានាថាសិស្ស និងគ្រូទទួលបានការបណ្តុះបណ្តាលគ្រប់គ្រាន់ ដើម្បីប្រើប្រាស់បច្ចេកវិទ្យាសម្រាប់គោលបំណងអប់រំ។
- ដោយសារប្រព័ន្ធបែងចែកគន្លងសិក្សានៅកម្រិតវិទ្យាល័យ នៅកម្ពុជានាពេលបច្ចុប្បន្ន មិនទាន់មានប្រសិទ្ធភាព ក្នុងការលើកទឹកចិត្តសិស្សដែលមានទេពកោសល្យ ឱ្យបន្តមុខជំនាញ និងការងារទាក់ទងនឹងវិទ្យាសាស្ត្រ បច្ចេកវិទ្យា វិស្វកម្ម ឬគណិតវិទ្យា (STEM) នៅឡើយ ដូច្នេះ វាជាការចាំបាច់ ក្នុងការពិចារណាឡើងវិញនូវការបែងចែកគន្លងសិក្សា។
- កិច្ចសហប្រតិបត្តិការជាមួយវិស័យឯកជនមានសារៈសំខាន់ណាស់ក្នុងការដោះស្រាយបញ្ហាជំនាញមិនស៊ីគ្នា និងកង្វះជំនាញ។ ប៉ុន្តែដើម្បីទាក់ទាញការចូលរួមពីវិស័យឯកជន ការលើកទឹកចិត្តផ្នែកសេដ្ឋកិច្ច និងបទប្បញ្ញត្តិ គឺជាអ្វីដែលគួរយកចិត្តទុកដាក់បន្ថែម។
- Given that the majority of jobs in Cambodia are low-skilled, there is an urgent need to enhance the quality of human resources and to shift focus from job quantity to job quality.
- Improving the quality of basic education in Cambodia is crucial for the cultivation of well-rounded citizens who can respond to the rapidly changing labour market.
- Effective integration of technology in education is necessary to ensure that both students and teachers are adequately trained to leverage technology for educational purposes.
- As the current high school tracking system in Cambodia does not effectively encourage talented students to pursue science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) majors and careers, reconsideration of the tracking mechanism is necessary.
- Collaboration with the private sector is crucial to resolve the skills mismatch and shortage, but it needs economic and regulatory incentives to attract private sector participation.
In his commitment to elevate Cambodia to a high-income nation by 2050, Prime Minister Hun Manet has presented his strategic vision outlined in the Pentagonal Strategy Phase I. In this latest national strategy, technology is added as the fifth priority under four previous priorities, namely “people, road, water, and electricity,” introduced in the Rectangular Strategy (Royal Government of Cambodia [RGC] 2023). People continue to be the first priority among the five core priorities. In the past decades, Cambodia’s remarkable economic growth has been driven by labour-intensive manufacturing, tourism and construction sectors. Macroeconomic stability and favourable trade policies, including preferential access to the European Union and United States markets, have facilitated significant foreign direct investment inflows into Cambodia. While these investments have bolstered employment opportunities, a pressing concern emerges: the majority of jobs in Cambodia remain low-skilled with limited productivity (World Bank 2019). It is estimated that nine out of 10 workers are employed in elementary or low-skilled jobs (National Institute of Statistics 2021). Therefore, the central challenge facing Cambodia to strive for high-income status does not depend on job quantity, but in job quality. Cambodia is in urgent need of a mechanism to enhance the quality of its human resources and of employment through the transformation of education and training. This would equip its people with skills and knowledge needed for the adoption of digital technology to perform high-skilled jobs. This blog argues that to prepare for future jobs, ensuring a high quality of basic education, integrating digital technology in education, revisiting the high school tracking system and promoting industry collaboration in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) are priorities.
Ensuring Quality Basic Education
Quality basic education serves as the cornerstone for economic development, enhancing human capital, fostering productivity and innovation, reducing poverty and income inequality and driving technological advancement. However, national and international learning assessments consistently highlight Cambodia’s learning crisis, with a substantial proportion of students failing to attain the expected levels of proficiency (UNICEF 2022; UNICEF and SEAMEO 2020). Based on the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics report, only 11 percent of grade 5 students in Cambodia achieved the expected levels of reading proficiency at the end of primary education. The deficiency in foundational knowledge from primary education is believed to contribute significantly to the high dropout rates and poor learning performance observed in secondary schools. Additionally, it is imperative to recognise that proficient literacy and numeracy skills are essential for success, even for students aspiring to enrol in TVETprogrammes. The absence of quality basic education poses a barrier to transforming Cambodia into a digital society and equipping its citizens with the high-level skills necessary to respond and adapt effectively to the rapidly changing labour market, as well as to fostering skills for lifelong learning. Furthermore, Cambodia’s trajectory toward achieving high-income status is intricately linked to the cultivation of a well-rounded, innovative and socially responsible younger generation. By improving basic education and enhancing early childhood learning, Cambodia can nurture a skilled, innovative and well-mannered workforce capable of propelling the nation into a high-income one.
Integrating Digital Technology in Education
Technology is another asset that will help Cambodia achieve its 2050 vision. In addition to the Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework (2021-2035), the Pentagonal Strategy clearly indicates the government’s commitment to utilising digital technology as a means to accelerate the transformation of Cambodia’s economy and society. This strategic approach is highly prudent, recognising that technology adoption plays a pivotal role in supplying the highly-skilled workforce demanded by the economy and thus fostering sustainable economic growth. Many middle-income countries often find themselves falling into the middle-income technology trap, unable to move up to high-income status (Andreoni and Tregenna 2020). Therefore, our education system needs to equip students with digital knowledge and skills, preparing them to embrace and adapt to emerging technologies. While the COVID-19 pandemic has expedited the adoption and integration of technology in teaching and learning, both Cambodian students and teachers lack adequate training and preparation to effectively leverage technology for educational purposes (Chea, Bo and Minami 2022). Without effective measures and inclusive integration, technology can exacerbate disparities and perpetuate digital divides. Presently, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) is in the process of formulating a digital education strategy. This initiative aims to enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning through the integration of digital technology. A thoughtful and well-executed digital education strategy is essential to ensuring that the benefits of technology in education are harnessed optimally and inclusively, fostering digitally literate people ready for future jobs.
Revisiting the High School Tracking System
Cambodia has made efforts to increase the quantity and quality of STEM workers to meet the demand of the labour market by practising the social science and science tracking system in high schools. Yet, studies and direct feedback from schools and teachers indicate that the current tracking system does not achieve its intended purpose of encouraging talented students to pursue STEM majors and careers (Kao, Chea and Song 2023, CDRI and MoEYS 2023). Instead, students tend to choose tracks based on their chances of passing the grade 12 examination. Both students and teachers seemingly perceive that the social science track is for poor performers, as it is easier for students to pass this track in the national examination. The fact that physics, chemistry and biology are not compulsory subjects in the national examination also discourages social science teachers and students from putting effort into teaching and learning these subjects. Given the ineffectiveness of the current tracking system, which freely allows students to choose tracks without clear criteria, the MoEYS should consider one of two options. The ministry should remove the tracking system from schools and strengthen the quality and relevance of TVET and career counselling at schools and universities. On the other hand, they could also revise the tracking mechanism and the high school examination to address higher rates of student failure in the STEM track.
Promoting Industry Collaboration in TVET
A highly-skilled workforce will attract more investments in the science and technology sectors. Cambodia needs to transform its TVET system, particularly the providers, to reduce skills shortages and mismatches in the labour market. Presently, it is estimated that enrolment in TVET programmes represents only a fraction of the total education and training enrolment. Despite the government’s recent commitment to provide scholarships for 1.5 million poor students, attracting students to TVET remains challenging due to the prevailing perception that it is a last resort for underperformers or dropouts (Song and Chea 2023). To address this challenge, it is imperative to make TVET skills attractive by highlighting the economic value and the demand by the labour market while enhancing the quality and relevance of TVET provision. This involves improving the quality of trainers, upgrading training facilities and curriculum and most importantly, fostering stronger collaboration with the private sector. The partnership with industries is crucial in creating tailored training programmes that enhance trainees’ employability and productivity. A key strategy in this collaboration can be the implementation of work-based learning, providing students with hands-on experiences in authentic workplace settings. This approach effectively integrates theoretical knowledge with practical applications, bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world challenges. However, to foster a successful collaboration, adequate economic and regulatory incentives are necessary to stir the interest of the private sector.
In summary, Cambodia’s pursuit of high-income status depends significantly on the transformation of its education and training system. A multi-faceted approach, which encompasses quality basic education, effective integration of digital technology, improvement of the STEM pipeline and enhanced TVET through industry collaboration and linkage, is imperative. The government’s commitment to these reforms, coupled with strategic partnerships, will foster resilient and sustainable economic growth to become a high-income country by 2050.
- Andreoni, Antonio, and Tregenna, Fiona. “Escaping the middle-income technology trap: a comparative analysis of industrial policies in China, Brazil and South Africa.” Structural Change and Economic Dynamics 54 (2020): 324-340.
- Chea Phal, Bo Chankoulika and Minami Ryuto. 2022. Cambodian Secondary School Teachers’ Readiness for Online Teaching During the Covid-19 Pandemic. CDRI Working Paper Series No. 134. Phnom Penh: CDRI.
- CDRI and MoEYS. 2023. “Learning Ability Gap between Male and Female Students at the Upper Secondary Schools.” Phnom Penh: CDRI and MoEYS.
- Kao, S., Chea, P. and Song, S. Upper Secondary School Tracking and Major Choices in Higher Education: to Switch or Not to Switch. Education Research Policy Practice (2023).
- National Institute of Statistics (NIS). 2021. Report of Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey 2019/2020. Phnom Penh: NIS.
- Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). 2023. “Pentagonal Strategy Phase I for Growth, Employment, Equity, Efficiency, and Sustainability: Building the Foundation Towards Realizing the Cambodia Vision 2050” Phnom Penh: RGC.
- Song, S., and Chea, P. (2023). Vocational Education and Training in Cambodia. In: Symaco, L.P., Hayden, M. (eds) International Handbook on Education in South East Asia. Springer International Handbooks of Education. Springer, Singapore.
- United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 2022. “Learning Loss in the Covid-19 Pandemic Era: Evidence from the 2016-2021 Grade Six National Learning Assessment in Cambodia.” Phnom Penh: UNICEF
- UNICEF and SEAMEO. 2020. “SEA-PLM 2019 Main Regional Report, Children’s learning in 6 Southeast Asian countries.” Bangkok: UNICEF and SEAMEO
- World Bank. 2019. Cambodia’s Future Jobs: Linking to the Economy of Tomorrow. Phnom Penh: World Bank