World Bank project aiming to keep Kingdom’s schools open

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Students attend class at Prek Leap Primary School in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district. Hong Menea

The World Bank has approved financing that – along with a grant from the Global Partnership for Education – will provide $69.25 million in new funding to help Cambodia improve equitable access to basic education and respond rapidly to crises affecting the education system.

In a press release on January 18, it said it will provide a $60 million credit through its International Development Association while the Global Partnership for Education will deliver a grant of US$9.25 million.

It said the funding will support the five-year General Education Improvement Project (GEIP), which aims to support Cambodia in achieving the vision outlined in its Education Strategic Plan (ESP 2019-2023) seeking to “establish and develop human resources that are of the very highest quality and are ethically sound in order to develop a knowledge-based society”.

To realise this objective, it added, the Cambodian government has expressed a commitment to address two main challenges: low student learning outcomes and inequitable access to quality basic education including early childhood, primary and secondary education.

World Bank country representative for Cambodia Maryam Salim said Cambodia has certainly made great achievements in expanding access to education already, but equitable access to education for certain groups of children – such as those living in remote areas, coming from poor families, ethnic minority communities and those living with disabilities – remains an issue.

Further, she said student learning outcomes had been greatly affected by the prolonged school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic

“We strongly hope that the project will address these challenges and build Cambodia back better,” she said.

Global Partnership for Education CEO Alice Albright said this funding comes at a crucial time as the new Omicron coronavirus variant is worsening the pandemic’s impact on education systems around the world again.

“We hope these funds will allow Cambodia to continue increasing access to quality education and ensure that the most vulnerable children are in school and learning,” she said.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha said the ministry welcomed and appreciates the cooperation of relevant institutions and development partners including the World Bank, the private sector, educators, parents, students and local authorities in contributing to an improvement in the quality of education and strengthening health safety for teaching and learning.