Dropout Rates Hit Rural Schools
Khmer Times/James Reddick and Chea Takihiro
Monday, 28 September 2015
|Chan Thon, 12, sitting at his house with his mother (foreground) and friends from school.KT/James Reddick|
BANTEAY VILLAGE (Khmer Times) –Chan Srey, a primary school teacher here in Baray Commune in Kampong Cham Province, is all too familiar with the pressures on the children that she teaches. She was a student here once.
She was also on the verge of becoming one of the many students every year who drop out of the school system after finishing primary school.
“My parents wanted me to stop studying, because my brother was sick,” she said. “But I rejected my mother’s request.”
Since finishing her studies, Ms. Srey has seen the exodus from local schools quicken. The girls leave school to work in a garment factory in Phnom Penh, while the boys are drawn mainly to the city’s many construction sites.
She says the problem is no longer just for girls, whose education used to be more readily sacrificed than their brothers.
“Before, I tried to explain to the parents about the bad effects of taking their kids out of school,” she said. “I don’t know what I can say any more.”
According to Chea Sophat, the school’s principal, there are more than 770 students in the school’s six grades. But he estimates that only around 30 students end up moving on to secondary school each year.
Baray Commune is a snapshot of a larger problem in Cambodia of persistently high dropout rates from primary to secondary school.