The strengthening network of education NGOs in Cambodia


No school operates in isolation, and one of the good things to emerge in the education NGO sector within Cambodia is the increasing co-operation between once-independent operators.  I’ve been very conscious over the past 8 years of the various competing models of education NGOs in Cambodia, and over time some have faded while others have flourished.  Among trends I’ve noticed are:

  • Increasing reliance on local Cambodian management. One organisation I respect, the UK-based SCC undertook a major structural change when they abandoned having their own field staff out of Britain, and relied instead on Cambodian management. It was, they said, simply more cost effective.
  • Increasing benchmarking of salaries and standards. Compared to 9 years ago when anyone could set up a school (heaven knows, that’s what we did) there were no constraints. There were no rules or Government regulations, and the NGO sector was finding its way in the dark.  Over time the standards have been introduced and the lights have come on. Thank goodness.

One of the agencies helping drive these kinds of change is the NEP – NGO Education Partnership which acts as a single co-operative voice for at least 70, (mostly larger and 50% located in Phnom Penh) education NGOs across Cambodia.

Together they consult closely with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MOEYS) and are helping to promote thinking on such subjects as the promotion of a heavier life-skills emphasis in the curriculum (ranging from health through to career guidance) and to address the acute shortage of primary school teachers which has been driven by the relative increase in secondary teacher salaries.

I’m encouraging Savong to join ($30 per annum seems a reasonably small sum) and while this would entail more paperwork no doubt (member surveys for example, and submissions as well as meeting in Phnom Penh) the benefits are, I think obvious. No school operates in isolation.

By the way, the NEP site is full of useful if somewhat dry papers concerning the education sector in Cambodia. I think it does us supporters a lot of good to equip ourselves with this kind of information. Click here.

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