Studying private tutoring in Cambodia

Mono (CRCP Senior Program Officer) speaking at the event

Mono (CRCP Senior Program Officer) speaking at the event

This Life Cambodia (TLC) is a not-for-profit, non-government community development organisation that was established in Siem Reap in Cambodia in 2007. TLC employs over 24 people, 23 of whom are Cambodian. The organisation is driven by the belief that every child, even those imprisoned, has the right to a free, high-quality education and that this education is vital to the development of communities. Through listening to, engaging with and advocating alongside individuals and communities, the work of TLC focuses on providing opportunities for communities to develop the essential infrastructure, skills and programs needed to make positive change in their lives and break free from poverty.

In 2011, TLC received a financial contribution from PERI (Privatisation in Education Research Initiative), an initiative of OSI (Open Society Institute), to undertake a qualitative research study on the social impact of private tutoring amongst school students in Cambodia, an issue having emerged from work in the rural provinces of Cambodia. Research findings highlighted a number of issues that are cause for concern. Insufficient classroom time for teachers to deliver the national school curriculum puts pressure on students to receive private tutoring to make up this short fall, and poor salaries for teachers puts pressure on them to find alternative ways to supplement their income; providing private tutoring after school, is one way teachers can do this. Findings highlighted how private tutoring in Cambodia is creating greater inequalities between the rich and poor, with children from poorer families unable to pay the fees to attend, preventing them from receiving the full curriculum to complete their education.

The outcomes of this research have had far-reaching results already. Embarking on this research created an opportunity for organisational growth and expansion for TLC, and led to the development of a Community Research and Consultancy Program (CRCP) for the organisation, which now means TLC can conduct research about emerging development issues, relating in particular to education, juvenile justice and human rights. CRCP now has the capacity to translate voices into new knowledge, which can then be used as a tool to advocate for positive change. Furthermore, the CRCP team of TLC, were invited to present results of this one-year study involving 6 schools, at a national forum held in Phnom Penh in December of last year. The forum, ‘Public-Private Partnership: Private Tutoring in Cambodia’ was attended by a number of national government officials and key stakeholders, including representatives of the Departments of Curriculum Development, Primary Education and Lower Secondary Education, and representatives from NGO Education Partnership (NEP), and an Advocacy and Campaigns Adviser from the Asian Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE). The launch of the findings in January this year (2013) was also a successful event, attracting the attendance of local NGO’s, school principles, and parents, along with education department officials, generating much vibrant discussion and debate.

As result of funding received from PERI, a national conversation between NGOs, national and sub-national mechanisms and development partners, about the social impact of private tutoring on communities has been initiated, and a research and consultancy program has been established. TLC is grateful to PERI and OSI, for the opportunities that lie ahead, for creating new knowledge that can be translated into actions, systems and policies that can help address educational inequalities for young people in Cambodia.




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