Cambodia, with its landscape of innovative leaders in the education sector, non-governmental organizations, and partners committed to improving learning, provides for a ripe foundation for improvements and efficiencies to be made in education. Cambodia’s economy has also seen rapid growth and increased resources and funding being allocated to education.
Improvements in the education system have been made from the Paris Peace Accords in 1991 which had a significant impact in the enrollment rates and overall changes made to curriculum and instruction. Drop-out rates, inequity, and poor learning outcomes have persisted stemming in part from low levels of funding and a struggle to effectively distribute them efficiently. The introduction of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) to Cambodia in 2010 made apparent the low levels of reading proficiency among primary students. Half of grade 1 boy and girl students could not recognize a single letter and two-thirds could not read a single familiar word. Almost half of grade 2 students similarly were unable to read any familiar words.
The 2015 Early Grade Reading Sector Assessment, authorized by USAID in April 2015, was designed to produce findings to help decision makers, in particular the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and USAID/Cambodia, plan effective reading-focused interventions and better understand current policies, practices, and impediments to early reading instructional practices in Khmer. The Early Grade Reading Sector Assessment worked to identify such gaps and provide a full diagnostic snapshot of the key accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities in Cambodia for a comprehensive and high quality early grade reading program. A team of four education experts from RTI International, one Senior Education Advisor from the USAID/Asia Bureau, and four staff members of a local NGO, Kampuchean Action for Primary Education (KAPE), carried out the assessment. The results of the assessment are presented in this report.