The development of human resource plays a very important role in ensuring the growth of each country in the world, Societies and nations require on-going development of human resources. Education plays a vital role in providing a skilled workforce (UNESCO, 2006). Cambodia has been severely affected by Pol Pot regime (1975-1979). Under the Khmer Rouge, 75 percent of teachers, 96 percent of higher education students, and 67 percent of primary and secondary school-aged pupils were killed (Ayres, 2000, p.126). The severe loss of human resources may take Cambodia decades to reconstruct. According to Ayres (2000) education was set to zero during that period. The past curriculum was irrelevant; it did not serve the students’ need to survive in their society (p.150). Aligned with this is a statement made by Hun Sen “there is a recognition of the need to make urgent reform of the curriculum of general education at all levels”. (Ayres, 2000, p.147)
The current curriculum was developed by learning from the experiences of the 1954 and 1967 curriculums (Sangkum Reas Niyum regime), the 1980 and 1986 curriculums (People’s Republic of Kampuchea), and from the curriculums of developing and developed countries within and outside the Asian region. “The curriculum is now compatible with humanistic principles”. (HURIGHTS, 2003)
“When the first reforms were initiated in 1980, after the Khmer Rouge period of genocide, the country lacked the expertise to implement changes in the system. On the job, however, expertise developed rapidly and this helped the implementation of the 1994 reforms. More external experts later helped develop textbooks and teacher guides by suggesting an update of content for different subject areas”. (HURIGHTS, 2003). This research aims to identify the current development issues of the national curriculum for primary schools in Cambodia and the following questions will be focused.
What is the role of the curriculum within Cambodian schools?
What is the aim of the curriculum?
What does the current curriculum for primary schools in Cambodia look like?
Should the curriculum for primary school in Cambodia be changing?
Who is responsible for curriculum development in Cambodia?
II. Literature Review
1. Role of Curriculum
The role of curriculum is to develop knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values, personality, life experience with emphasis on language and computation skills, information, problem-solving skills, independence, cooperation, physical education, learning and working, to the learners so that they can take active part in national development in the spirit of national unity and liberal pluralistic democracy. (HURIGHTS, 2003)
2. The aim of the curriculum
“The aim of curriculum is to ensure that every child has a strong foundation in literacy and mathematics and that they develop their health, physical appearance, moral understanding, learning skills and life skills. Moreover, it aims to expand and consolidate students’ knowledge and personal development that will enable them to pursue life-long learning and to introduce students to content in the areas of Science and Social Studies” (MoEYS, 2004).
Students completing the primary level should be able to do the following:
Develop their personalities and adapt to social changes.
Use the Khmer language appropriately and learn the basic elements of a foreign language.
Use basic skills in mathematics, science, and technology.
Practice sanitation and health protection.
Analyze and solve personal and familial problems.
Exhibit good conduct and desirable attitudes, and adopt a humanistic spirit and a tradition of respecting human rights.
Appreciate work and labor, work cooperatively with others, and work well.
Be aware of social conditions and duties.
Know how to preserve the environment, arts, and culture.
3. The national curriculum for primary school
The national curriculum for primary school comprises several subjects such as Khmer, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies and Physical and Health Education and LLSP. The allocated time is 40 minutes per period. Art education (songs, drawing, dance, music,…) is included in Science and Social Studies. In grade 5-6, foreign language will be introduced to students according to the availability of local resources. For the first stage (2005-2009), the MoEYS will encourage schools to offer foreign language using non -MoEYS resources in the LLSP time. In total there are 27-30 hours per week. (MoEYS, 2004)
4. The curriculum for primary schools should be changing
With limited production of learning materials, the curriculum should be implemented year by year continuously from grades 1 to 6, providing useful lessons for designing textbooks and teacher guides, and the opportunity to orient manageable numbers of teachers each year on how to implement the curriculum. In doing so, students can receive good education which relate to their everyday life.(USAID, 2006)
5. Who is responsible for curriculum development?
MoEYS, the Department of Pedagogical Research, is responsible for developing the curriculum and standard for each subject in the National Curriculum (NC) and has the responsibility to monitor and regulate the publication or production of core textbook, additional reading document and supplementary teaching materials that serve the purpose of learning and teaching in schools. (UNESCO, 2006)
Define key terms
National curriculum: refers to a set of subjects offers at public schools.
Current development issues: refers to the issues which are dealt or develop recently.
Human resource: any person and their particular abilities and skills; the concept of people and their potential as a resource (online dictionary).
“Cambodia has suffered prolonged wars that ruined its social economy. To rebuild the country, the education system has to work hard to make children learn in the midst of poverty. After free and universal elections under United Nations supervision, the country achieved national reconciliation and political, social, and economic stability, and opted for economic liberalization and participation in the international free market. Foreign investment is now flowing into Cambodia, which needs a labor force with technical skills at all levels. The Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) has to meet this need as soon as possible”. (HURIGHTS , 2003)
To respond to the demands of labor force, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is working very hard to make sure that the curriculum provides good education to the students at all levels. With USAID’s support, a revised and improved curriculum for grades one through six was written and introduced to schools and communities. (USAID, 2006)
“To ensure a lasting impact for the new curriculum, USAID will help teacher training centers adapt a training program on the new curriculum. This will ensure that all newly accredited teachers in Cambodia learn how to implement the new curriculum before they begin their teaching careers. Education officials in all 24 district education offices and 18 teacher training centers will be trained to implement the new curriculum. Fifty percent of all teachers already teaching at 288 primary schools in eight remote provinces will also be taught to implement the new curriculum through self-guided learning modules”. (USAID, 2006)