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Women School Enrollment in Cambodia

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The Kingdom of Cambodia, common referred to as Cambodia, is a beautiful country. It is located between Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand on the southern end of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Before starting my studies this semester, Spring 2013 at USF, I knew little of Cambodia. I met another IME student here at USF whose family fled Cambodia during the civil war that started in 1970. Life in Cambodia became more dangerous during the Khmer Rouge Regime from 1975-1979. She and her family sought refuge in the United States. I was fascinated with her story of struggle and wanted to learn more. I have since interviewed others from Cambodia who were also forced abroad during that time.

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Education is very important means to train and build up human resources for development of each country and it is also important for development of child as person. However, educational system in Cambodia has suffered too much during Khmer Rouge Regime from 1975 to 1979. After that period, the government has tried to improve it by cooperated and collaborated with external aid and non-governmental organization (NGOs). According to the Cambodian constitution, it states that “the state shall provide free primary and secondary education to all citizens in public school. Citizens shall receive education for at least nine years”. Nowadays, though the pupils have no pay the fee, they still have to spend money on other things such as stationery, textbooks, contribution fee etc. Moreover, some provinces students are asked to spent money to teacher for fee; this is the problem that prevent pupil from poor families from attending school. Moreover, the ministry of education has not provided adequate education for minority children. Many children cannot access to school, and there is no provision for schooling in minority languages except for classes provided by private ethic associations. Not only that, there is insufficient special education provision for disabilities children. Even though some organizations co-operated with government to provide school for those, this effort is not yet enough. Then, the quality of education in Cambodia is very poor. Some schools in urban areas have around 60 to 80 students in each class, because there are not enough class for pupils, most schools operated two shifts or three shifts per a day that affect the pupils’ feeling to study . Other thing is that the limited skilled of teachers reduce the quality of educational system. Technical and pedagogical training for teacher is not up to standard yet. There are many teaching methods such as child-centered learning method has been taught to some teachers; however, teachers still follow the old teaching methods. The last point is the lack of commitment of teacher because they receive a small amount of salary (about $15 to $20 per month) that lead to the low motivation for teaching. Then, they need to find others job to supplement their incomes for survival

In fact, the national government budget allocation to Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport was only 10.3% in 1997 and increase to 12% in 1998, which is still very, in particular when compared to 52% for the defense sector.

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The higher education system in Cambodia is from a gender equality perspective clearly unequal. This inequality is related to the societal gender patterns which determine not only women’s access to higher education but also their struggle to remain in the program

Feminist emancipatory philosophy is concerned with how women’s learning and ways of knowing is influenced by the intersection between power, cultural and societal structures and gender, race, class, religion and sexual orientation (Tisdell & Taylor, 1998). It is obvious that the multiple systems of privilege and oppression is the root of women’s challenges in learning and knowing. Therefore, Luke (1992) and Hooks (1994) have come to the common ground that in order to demolish social injustice and inequity and develop better ways of living and knowing within society, women altogether need to make their voice heard as a collective strength. Therefore, the purpose of this study under the framework of feminist emancipatory philosophy is to bring social change. It is hoped that by giving insight into the difficulties encountered by female students in higher education, awareness will be raised among school principals, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to take immediate actions so more women can attend higher education. Improving women’s roles and status in the society seems impossible if women are not highly educated. The study is based upon a constructivist theoretical perspective.

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To summarize, from the early twentieth century until 1975, the system of mass education operated on the French model. The educational system was divided into primary, secondary, higher, and specialized levels. Public education was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, which exercised full control over the entire system; it established syllabi, hired and paid teachers, provided supplies, and inspected schools. An inspector of primary education, who had considerable authority, was assigned to each province. Cultural committees under the Ministry of Education were responsible for "enriching the Cambodian language."

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Hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.

Tisdell, E., & Taylor, E. (1998). Adult education philosophy informs practice. Adult Learning, 11, 6-10.

Jacobs, J.A. (1996). Gender inequality and higher education. Annual Review of Sociology 22, 153– 185.

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