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UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

11/30/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/30/2020 03:05

Giving Cambodia’s Marginalized Learners a Second Chance

Cambodia has made huge gains in education in the past five years: net enrolment rates at primary education level have reached 98%. Primary schools are available in nearly every geographic location. There are more students enrolling in school at the right age than ever before.[1] Despite these successes, key educational challenges inhibit Cambodia's ability to achieve its goal of becoming an upper middle income country by 2030.

High dropout rates, particularly at the lower secondary education level, remain a persistent issue. Quality of learning is also a concern. Findings from Cambodia's PISA report show Cambodian students performing significantly lower than the internationally agreed standards of basic literacy. The country's low return on education has long-term effects on the ability of its growing labor force to keep up with the country's fast-paced growth.[2]

Based on a survey conducted by the National Employment Agency in Cambodia in 2017, nearly one-third of establishments interviewed faced a skill gap.[3] Employers in the industry and services sector are increasingly demanding higher-order skills relating to communication, customer service, digital literacy and the ability to adapt to new equipment and procedures.[4] Unskilled workers with low levels of educational attainment struggle to find meaningful work or transition to better-paying jobs.

To support the ability of these workers to pursue better long-term opportunities, particularly female migrant workers in the garment industry, UNESCO in partnership with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) launched the Factory Literacy Programme (FLP) in 2016. Through partner factories, FLP provides a customized literacy and mathematic learning package for garment workers that were unable to complete their primary education.

In addition to helping learners gain functional literacy and mathematic skills, FLP equips them with key skills in financial and legal literacy, reproductive health, nutrition, worker rights, communications and productivity, through a holistic curriculum customized specifically around the needs of migrant female workers. Upon completion of the four-month programme, learners receive a Grade 4 equivalency certificate that is attested by MoEYS, which gives them the option to pursue further education at formal or non-formal education institutes.

[1] Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (2019). Education Strategic Plan. Kingdom of Cambodia.

[2] World Bank (2018). Cambodia Economic Update: Recent Economic Developments and Outlook.

[3] National Employment Agency (2018). Skills Shortages and Skills Gaps in the Cambodian Labour Market: Evidence from Employer Survey 2017.

[4] World Bank (2018). Cambodia Economic Update: Recent Economic Developments and Outlook.