Teacher Training in Cambodia. MOEYS official policy.

I don’t often do this but here – verbatim – is the Ministry of Youth, Education & Sport (MOEYS) official policy towards formal teacher training.

Teacher Training

  1. The primary objective of this program is to ensure an effective supply of teachers for all education levels so as to respond to the education system expansion through upgrading the competencies of TTC managers and education administrators, teacher trainers, school principals and other key staff of the MOEYS.
  2. The second objective is to ensure that the number of new intakes of all TTCs and the NIE and the subsequent deployment of new teachers should favorably respond to the growing demand for teachers in rural/remote and disadvantaged areas through the recruitment and training of teacher trainees from these targeted areas as well as from the areas inhabited by ethnic minority people.
  3. The third objective is to improve the quality of teaching through expansion of in-service teacher training.

Responding to ESP Strategies and Policies

Policy 1: Ensuring Equitable Access to Education Services

  • Ensuring teacher provision in remote and disadvantaged areas.

Policy action:

  • An action plan on multi-grade teaching in border and remote areas and/or areas populated by ethnic minority groups developed annually.

Policy 2: Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Education Services

  • Improve pre-service and in-service teacher development.

Policy action:

  • An action plan for the capacity development of teaching staff developed annually.
  • A report on the needs assessment for upgrading trainers’ competencies and an action plan for teacher trainer capacity development to be completed in 2010.
  • Master Plan for Teacher Development finalized in 2010.
  • Report on the needs assessment for facilities in all teacher training centers finalized in 2010
  • A plan for upgrading the competencies of secondary-school teachers with limited teaching capacity developed in 2011.
  • ICT documents in teacher training curriculum revised in 2011.
  • Modules of gender sensitiveness will be officially integrated into the teacher training curriculum in 2011.
  • Teacher training curriculum review to be completed by 2012.
  • Modules for inclusive education in teacher training curriculum revised in 2012.

Indicators and Targets

  • 5,000 new trainees will be recruited annually to enroll in all TTCs, in which priority in which priority will be given to at least 40% of teacher trainees from rural, remote and disadvantaged areas and those with ethnic minority backgrounds.
  • 3,000 primary-school teachers will be trained at the six RTTCs by the SY 2013-2014 with a view to upgrading their competencies to become basic education teachers.
  • 90 primary-school inspectors and 120 secondary-school inspectors will be recruited and trained at the national Institute of Education (NIE) by SY 2013-2014.
  • 1,500 new trainees from disadvantaged areas will be recruited annually and assigned to work in their indigenous areas after completing their education.


Paperwork. A big part of running a school.


There’s a certain romance about teaching students: giving them skills and encouraging them in their quest to grow and learn. It is a rewarding vocation. But spare a thought for the administrators who help every school run to budget and remain transparent and accountable to supporters or funders.

Recently Savong implemented a new accounting system for the school and for the children’s home SHEC. If we go back a few years the NGO ran like many in Cambodia, with energy and donations but without managements systems. Try getting receipts in a country where retailers didn’t have cash registers, or where vendors are so poor they don’t pay tax and have no need, therefore, for accounts.

But all that has changed now, with increasing (if I may use the word) business-fication of NGOs, accountability for supporters and registration and audits from the relevant Cambodian Government Ministries. 

So now we have a system at the school whereby all expenses are receipted (see photo above) and these receipts are scanned and sent to me in New Zealand where an accountant, Leo Liu puts together the books so we can marry up:

  1. What money gets sent each month
  2. Where it gets spent each month

This system also enables us to discuss budgets. For example in April we awarded all staff at the school a pay rise to bring the lowest positions (security watch) up to a fair wage, and to reflect the experience of the teachers.  These are still pretty basic salaries however – and my dream is to raise enough funds so we can keep paying at least slightly above average.

Neither Savong nor I love paperwork, but Savong has discovered through his own university studies in management that paperwork actually gives him a lot more clarity for decision-making.  He has also become the champion of making it happen. His strategy: delegate all paperwork to his administrators, and warn the staff – “no paperwork, no pay!” 

So far his strategy is working well. The good thing: he held a big staff meeting to explain why the paperwork is so important. “It’s all about transparency,” he told them.  

That’s one aspect of the experience I’ve enjoyed since 2004. Back then Savong was just completing high school himself, and his dream to build a school was audacious enough. But now he’s running the project not as a visionary, but as a maturing manager.  It has been excellent to watch him grow into the role he first imagined.



Is $700 million lost through graft? If so, then top-down aid in Cambodia is not working.

Here’s a valuable link to a report funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and looking into issues of effective aid in Cambodia. Among the challenges:

  1. Overseas NGO’s tending to take a top-down approach.
  2. Lack of co-ordination between NGO’s.
  3. Failure to account for where the funding goes – huge levels of graft suspected.
  4. Often, but not always, a disconnect between foreign-run NGOs and the local population.

The report suggests, I think quite fairly, that the NGO sector is under-developed or immature, and it raises the question about whether NGOs are unintentionally doing the work  that the Government should be responsible for.

It is good to see an independent report such as this – and one raising the questions it does. From my own perspective I feel that decisions discussed in 2004 and 2005 with Savong about the management and financial structure of Savong’s School were the right decisions: namely to deliberately put the project in local hands.

Immediately after the school was built, the village elders of Bakong came to visit Savong, and they asked for money to rebuild a footbridge over the river near Rolous village.  I remember (westerner that I am) being a little offended. Haven’t we done enough? How can they ask us for more?  But Savong quietened me down and explained the need for the bridge and how he wanted to show that his school was a willing new part of the local community.

He saw things from a local perspective, and literally built bridges with local people. What a different outcome might have eventuated for the school if a proud, business-focused, target driven, top-down western-run school had been set up, and run by foreigners.