Cambodia is struggling to throw off the shackles of its past in education and in many others ways. Although education is theoretically free enrolment fees may vary inversely according to parents’ position is society and hence the poor are often still deprived of their rights. The process begins with 6 years of primary education.
Six years of secondary education follow divided into 2 phases mainly according to the Vietnamese model.. There is tension between Buddhist schools and state ones recovering from a previous harsh revolutionary government. Teachers are grossly underpaid and may eke out a living by either charging unofficial fees, or by moonlighting while classrooms remain unattended. There is still a considerable way to go, to catch up to the standards prevailing before the days of Khymer Rouge.
For centuries the poor of Cambodia have toiled under the yoke of peasantry with little hope for self improvement. Today the government has programs in place to close this gap, and give its people new light and hope in future for their children.
Despite the ravages of the past, higher education is available at the Royal University of Phnom Phen, the Royal Agricultural University,
the Royal University of Fine Arts, and various Faculties of Medicine, of Law and Economics, and of Business. The Higher Technical Institute of Soviet-Khymer Friendship has been rebranded the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, while the Australian-funded Maharishi Vedic University functions in rural Prey Veng Province.
The Royal University of Phnom Phen is Cambodia’s oldest university having been founded in 1960 by the Cambodian King assisted with French money. It was reopened in 1998, and now approximately 4,000 students may study Khymer literature, biology, chemistry, computer science, geography, mathematics, philosophy, psychology and sociology there.