Collaboration is Key to Cambodian Education’s Pandemic Recovery

Collaboration within the education sector is key to fill the huge learning gap created by the pandemic, with a push needed for digital literacy, entrepreneurship skills, and technological readiness, a new roadmap reveals.
Schoolchidren leaving school in Koh Kong province (Kiripost/Prak Chan Thul)
Schoolchidren leaving school in Koh Kong province (Kiripost/Prak Chan Thul)

In the wake of the pandemic that brought learning loss among students nationwide, collaboration within the education sector can speed up the recovery process and prepare Cambodia’s young population for digital readiness, a new report suggests.

Private-sector entrepreneurs, academia, research and development (R&D) are integral parts to push Cambodia to incorporate educational technology into teaching and learning.

Cambodia's EduTech roadmap

“As the government makes policies, private sectors know more about their markets and consumers; and R&D, which leads to innovation, generally originates at universities or research institutes,” said a new Education Technology Roadmap that calls for all parties involved to collaborate for the benefits of students.

It adds strong collaboration will also help push for talent development, innovation, and knowledge mobilization.

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Overall learning outcomes, digital literacy, entrepreneurship skills, and technological readiness of Cambodia’s young population are key elements in the EduTech Roadmap 2022, published by the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology & Innovation (MISTI).

Sok Leap, founder and CEO of EduTech Sala start-up, a platform that helps students choose college majors, told Kiripost, “Study is a work in progress and study should be done anytime and beyond the classroom.”

He added,

“Technology provides students with easy-to-access information, accelerated learning, and fun opportunities to practice what they learn. Cost-effective, reusable and no-limit to where or time.”

“To build the next-generation, technology-enhanced learning ecosystem focusing on improving innovation and entrepreneurship skills,” the roadmap’s objective is to infuse tech in education, both at home and school, so students can acquire skills and knowledge to join the future digital workforce.

The roadmap also reveals the importance of internet connectivity for Cambodia’s rural schools. “The top priority should be satellite launching, for Cambodia does not currently have one in space yet. Despite the fact that it is very useful as a communication tool, satellite is expensive and requires highly-capable technical staff to operate. Not to mention the understanding of how to build and launch one.”

MISTI’s report urges that “to improve the quality of education, it is also essential to improve the use of technology in teaching and learning. Only when quality teaching and learning are delivered adequately, will education help individuals build a fulfilling life and pull a country out of economic misery.”

The 2022 EduTech roadmap objective is also in line with MISTI’s Science, Technology & Innovation Roadmap 2030.

Cambodia, until 2020, had already invested about $6.62 million in 10 New Generation Schools (NGS), serving 5,722 students, and a pedagogical research center in four provinces as well as Phnom Penh.

Piloted since 2014, Cambodia’s NGS have gained a reputation for pushing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). It is a collaboration between the Education Ministry and Kampuchea Action to Promote Education (KAPE) that aims to modernize the Cambodian education system.

The country aims to get at least 50 percent of university students to choose STEM major by 2030.

Learning loss during the pandemic

Research conducted in April confirms “Cambodian children experienced extensive ‘learning loss’ during Covid-19, requiring increased investment in education”.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) assessed more than 6,000 students in 230 schools across the nation and found that Cambodian children had fallen behind in their learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Schools were closed for 250 days during 2020 and 2021, the equivalent of almost two-thirds of the two school years.

Cambodia’s education sector is recovering from the pandemic as school closures impacted an estimated 3.2 million students countrywide.

It is believed the current cohort of Cambodian students on average lost about 1.5 years of learning adjusted for both quantity and quality of schooling, according to Learning Loss Report published in May by UNICEF.

"Globally, learning loss is perceived as one of the most damaging consequences of the pandemic, but Cambodia is one of the few countries that have proved its extent with hard data," said Foroogh Foyouzat, UNICEF Representative in Cambodia, in a release in April.