Where does Cambodia rank in terms of higher education?

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Measurements of education are difficult because one nation’s standards may be different from those of other nations, and the population  structure may be quite different also. However one metric applied by the UN is “enrollment in tertiary education” and this takes the percentage of people of tertiary education age (18 – 24 say) who are actually enrolled in tertiary education.

By these standards Cambodia ranks 116th out of 148 nations measured by UNESCO (2011) and reported by the World Economic Forum – a few positions lower than neighbouring Laos.

Earlier UNESCO figures (2005) estimated that around 2.8% of tertiary aged Cambodians are enrolled in tertiary education. (In the USA the figure is 72%.)

This situation is changing, and I think quite rapidly since 2005, but Cambodia has some catching up to do. When asked to evaluate the problems hindering economic development, the World Economic Forum respondents rated the “inadequately educated workforce” as the third greatest problem after corruption and inefficient Government bureaucracy.

A deeper problem is the urban-rural split, with university being more accessible for comparatively rich urban families, and out of reach for the rural poor. This issue has the potential to create a harsh class division in Cambodia, on top of the nation’s other social challenges. It is a key reason why at Savong’s School we established a full scholarship for the top students – and this provides for university enrollment (over a 4 year degree) as well as transport, a laptop and a living allowance over the 4 years.

More about the university scholarship – click here.

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3 thoughts on “Where does Cambodia rank in terms of higher education?

    • Thanks for the comment. I’ve been very keen over the years not only to help Savong and his school, but also to learn about the context in which he operates. This month my blogs have been more about background information rather than personal stories about the project – and I’m planning to interview one interesting person per month to hear their perspectives about Cambodia. I remain convinced that education is the best possible thing that we foreigners can support in Cambodia. It helps individuals to better reach their potential, it adds value to the economy and hopefully it creates an informed citizenry who can act for social justice.

      • From my experience at least, it takes money to make positive changes, and all-too-often people with money are more interested in making more money and not so much making positive changes. Who are the foreigners interested in supporting just social causes?

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