Policy Connections

Cambodia Language-in-Education Policy in the Context of ASEAN Economic Integration and the Internationalization of Higher Education

Virak Chan

Issues That Motivated the Research

The effects of globalization in the 1990s have significantly influenced the status of English and have impacted different aspects of language-in-education planning in local contexts. In this globalized era, many national governments are interested in promoting the ability to use English among their populations because they believe it can help them develop economically (Ali, 2013). Specific language policies have been developed in relation to English, including the teaching of English as a subject and the use of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) in the education sectors. After its first democratic election in 1993, Cambodia opened its doors to substantial international aid as well as foreign investments, and this period has also marked an increase in English language learning and teaching in the country. Nowadays, schools and universities offer a variety of academic programs, many of which include English taught as a subject and some of which use EMI.

The study discussed in this chapter was motivated by a desire to understand the status of different languages, namely Khmer and English, and their uses in education in Cambodia, as well as the contexts surrounding the uses of these languages. According to Ear (2013), Cambodia has been heavily dependent on foreign aid and developmental assistance, which have not necessarily helped to improve the governance system in the country. Many of the aid and development projects take little account of local perspectives and use Cambodia as a testing ground to serve powerful countries like China and the United States. The influence of these countries may create interesting contexts for understanding the representation of different languages in policy documents and the perceptions of policy actors on the status of Khmer and English in relation to each other.

Context of the Research

Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia with an area of 181,035 square kilometers (about the size of the U.S. State of Missouri). It borders Thailand and Laos in the north, Vietnam in the east and south, and the Gulf of Thailand in the west. The general census estimated Cambodia’s population in 2019 to be at around 15.3 million. Its adult population (age 15 and over) has a literacy rate of 78% (Cambodia National Institute of Statistics, 2019) with Khmer as the only official language.

Cambodia has experienced both a glorious and a tragic past. The Angkor period between the ninth and thirteenth centuries AD marked its high point, when Cambodia was a powerful kingdom that occupied large territories covering much of the present-day mainland of Southeast Asia (Chandler, 1988). After the fall of Angkor in the fourteenth century, Cambodia was ransacked by Thailand and Vietnam and lost much of its territorial integrity to these two neighboring countries. To escape its subordinate relationship with Thailand, Cambodia became a protectorate of the French in 1863 and was under French colonial rule from 1883 to 1953.

In 1953, Cambodia gained independence from France and became a constitutional monarchy under the reign of King Norodom Sihanouk. The peace and prosperity after Cambodia’s independence lasted until March 1970, when the king was overthrown in a coup d’etat. This coup was followed by a civil war between the U.S.-backed government, led by General Lon Nol, and the communist group, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot.

On April 17, 1975, Cambodia fell into the hands of the Khmer Rouge, backed by communist Vietnamese forces. This period, when the country was known as Democratic Kampuchea, lasted for almost four years and left the physical and institutional structure of Cambodia completely devastated. Under the Pol Pot regime, the entire population was forced into army camps or collective farms (Chandler, 1998). Almost three quarters of Cambodia’s educated population, including teachers, students, professionals, and intellectuals, were estimated to have been killed, to have died of disease or starvation, or to have escaped into exile.

On January 7, 1979, the communist Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia and ended the Khmer Rouge regime and its genocide. A new government, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, was installed and supported by communist Vietnam, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, and other socialist bloc nations (Dy, 2004; Neau, 2003). Although the genocide ended and a new government was formed, the civil war among different factions of Cambodians was still ongoing. Under increasing international pressure, peace accords, and promises of assistance from the United Nations to end the ongoing civil war that had begun with the Vietnamese occupation, Vietnam eventually began withdrawing its forces from Cambodia in the late 1980s. Temporary control was turned over to the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia until a free and fair election was held in 1993 for Cambodians to choose their government leaders from among the various warring factions. As Clayton (2002) noted, there were three important transitions after the Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia in 1989: (1) from a single-party communist system to a system with multiple parties and democratic principles; (2) from central planning to a free market economy; and (3) from an emergency to a development mandate in national rehabilitation.

The first democratic election in 1993 marked an important political transition in the history of Cambodia. Since then, developmental assistance to Cambodia has significantly increased with major bilateral donors (including countries such as Japan, France, the United States, Australia, and Sweden) and with multilateral aid from the United Nations agencies, the European Union, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. This assistance was also provided through many non-governmental organizations operating in the country (Clayton, 2002). After this first democratic election, the Cambodian economy also underwent restructurings and reforms, which have helped to bring the Cambodian GDP from USD 1.27 billion to USD 10.3 billion and its per capita annual income from USD 152 to USD 739 from 1989 to 2009 (Pou et al., 2012). The World Bank put the Cambodian GDP at USD 24.54 billion and its per capita income at USD 1,390 in 2018.

Khmer is the national language of Cambodia and, according to Thong (1985), has always been the medium of instruction at public schools. (The term Khmer is also used to refer to the people of Cambodia.) According to Bradley (2010), Khmer is the language of

more than 10 million people including all ethnic Khmer in Cambodia, over a million in the Mekong delta of Vietnam, over 800,000 along the northern border of Cambodia in north-eastern Thailand and among post-1975 refugees in the west.

(p. 101)

Besides the Khmer language, according to Paul, Simons, and Fennig (2016), Cambodia has 22 other languages used by ethnic minorities, including Brao, Cham (Western), Chinese (Накка), Chong, Jarai, Касо’, Kavet, Kraol, Kru’ng, Kuay, Lao, Lao Phuon, Mnong (Central), Pear, Samre, Sa’och, Somray, Stieng (Bulo), Suoy, Tampuan, Thai, and Vietnamese.

After 1993, Cambodia began to see a growing influence of the English language, particularly in its education system. English is integrated into the national curriculum and is taught as a separate subject in many public secondary schools and institutions of higher education. Many private schools and universities even claim to offer English medium international programs. The need for and influence of the English language is growing stronger with Cambodia’s integration into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the world.

In 1999, Cambodia joined ASEAN, an alliance currently comprising 10 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore,

Thailand, and Vietnam. The association aims to promote peace and stability, and to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region. And more recently, in 2015, Cambodia was integrated into the ASEAN Economic Community, where goods and labor are allowed to flow freely among member states. It is important to note here that ASEAN has adopted English as its working language.

Even with the recent improvement in its GDP per capita income and stronger regional and international integration, Cambodia’s education system is still limited in its resources, physical infrastructure, and human capital. Access to education has improved but is still marked by high levels of inequality across gender, location, and socioeconomic status. The drop-out rate gets higher as students move up the grade levels, especially among females and those in rural areas. This high drop-out rate is usually due to the lack of basic infrastructure such as water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in school buildings, the distance to schools, and the lack of relevant school curricula and qualified teachers. Higher education has also become more accessible, particularly in provincial towns and cities, but still remains far beyond the reach of most rural youths as the cost for traveling and of the education itself is high. The government of Cambodia is currently working with many non-governmental organizations and funding agencies to develop its physical and human capital, but it will take time and effort to overcome its tragic past, especially the genocide and the civil war in the 1970s and 1980s.

Research Questions Addressed

In order to investigate the growing influence of the English language in Cambodia, this study aimed to examine the current Cambodian language-in-education policy and the conditions for choices about language in Cambodian higher education. The following research questions were posed in this study:

  • 1. How are Khmer and English represented in Cambodian educational policy documents?
  • 2. What are the social, economic, and political contexts for the implementation of language policy in higher education in Cambodia?

Research Methods

This chapter reports on part of a larger dissertation study on the medium-of-instruction policy in Cambodian higher education. In this part of the research, I sought to understand the current language-in-education policy in Cambodia and the social, economic, and political contexts for its implementation. To accomplish this goal, I collected and examined data from different layers of the policy, including policy documents and interviews with university stakeholders.

Data Collection Procedures

The main data for this study are four policy documents which include the Cambodia Education Law (2007), Policy on Higher Education Vision 2030 (MoEYS, 2014b), Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018 (MoEYS, 2014a), and the Cambodia University Strategic Plan 2014—2018. The first three documents were publicly available on the website of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport at http://www.moeys.gov.kh/en/ and were downloaded from the website for analysis in March 2015. I obtained the fourth document at Cambodia University (a pseudonym used here and afterwards as CU). CU was the research site for this study and was purposefrilly selected because of its leading status in higher education and its seemingly increasing number of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and EMI classes. In addition to the four policy documents, 25 job advertisements and 13 scholarship announcements were also collected from CU notice boards from February to May 2015. I collected these documents because they provided important contexts for decision-making about language in education. They gave information about the language skills required in the labor market and for opportunities to pursue studies in developed countries.

The other main source of data for this study was a set of semi-structured interviews with six teachers and four administrators at CU. The teachers and administrators were purposefully selected to represent different layers of policy actors. Each interview was conducted in a language that the interviewee was comfortable with, and doing so usually meant switching between Khmer and English, since the interviewees were all Khmer-English bilinguals. Each interview lasted from 45 to 60 minutes. The interviews focused on interviewees’ academic and professional backgrounds, their attitudes and practices with different languages inside and outside their classrooms and institution, and their perspectives toward the use of English and Khmer and relevant policies. All the interviews were later transcribed and used for analysis.

Data Analysis Procedures

All the data (policy documents, job advertisements, scholarship announcements, and interview transcripts) were entered into NVivo 10, the qualitative data software used to organize and assist with the analysis of the data. All data were coded through a cycle of coding processes suggested by Saldana (2013), and the interpretation of the emerging themes was done through the lens of critical discourse analysis. The policy documents were examined for their representation of Khmer, English, and other languages and the discourses around these languages that inform the formulation of these policies. These discourses included factors such as the importance of Khmer language preservation and promotion for Khmer identity or the importance of English in giving Cambodia a competitive advantage in regional and global markets. Then, the job advertisements and scholarship announcements, which make up an important part of the language ecology of the university, were also examined for these different discourses about languages potentially circulating at the time I was collecting the data. Finally, interviews with university instructors and administrators were analyzed for insight into the specific contexts in which policies were implemented, such as the internationalization of selected programs at the university and the integration of Cambodia into the ASEAN Economic Community.

Findings and Discussion

How Khmer and English Are Represented in Policy Documents

This section discusses the de jure policy on language in education, which is based on law (Schiffman, 1996). The examination of the four important legal documents focuses specifically on the requirements related to language(s) used for instruction and their representation in the documents.

The first document is the Cambodia Education Law (2007), which was enacted by the National Assembly of Cambodia on October 19, 2007, and approved by its Senate on November 21, 2007. Examination of this law shows three important articles relevant to the analysis. Article 24 of the Cambodia Education Law (2007) mandates the Khmer language as the official language in public schools providing general education. It also states that international languages can be taught as a subject (foreign language) in the curriculum, based on the needs of students. However, Article 24 provides flexibility for the language of instruction for Khmer learners of minority Khmer origin (e.g., the indigenous ethnic minority groups who speak their own tribal languages), and leaves the decision to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS):

Article 24: Languages of teaching and learning

The Khmer Language is the official language and a subject of the fundamental curriculums at public schools providing general education. The private schools providing general education shall have a Khmer educational program as a fundamental subject in their educational programs. The language for Khmer learners of minority Khmer origin shall be determined by Prakas [a regulation issued by a minister] of the Ministry in charge of Education. Foreign languages, which are international languages, shall be specifically determined as subjects for the fundamental educational programs of general education in accordance with the learners’ needs.

(Cambodia Education Law, 2007)

It is important to note that this law does not include any mandates for the official language of instruction in higher education. The law leaves space for further interpretation at the Ministry and university levels in making language-of-instruction decisions for higher education. Moreover, Article 13 of the same law encourages managerial autonomy in higher education establishments, which seems to suggest that many decisions, including ones about the language of instruction for educational programs, shall be made at the level of universities and institutes. However, this Article also instructs the MoEYS to issue guidelines on this provision, which might serve the purpose of drawing a parameter for this autonomy.

Article 13: Autonomy of educational institutions

Higher educational institutions shall be provided rights as institutions with managerial autonomy. The administrations of higher education institutions shall be based on the principles of accountability, transparency, and public interest. The Ministry' in charge of Education shall issue a guideline on the provision of managerial autonomy to institutions.

(Cambodia Education Law, 2007)

Article 27 of the Cambodia Education Law (2007) focuses on the determination of education policies, principles, plans, and strategies. It designates the MoEYS as the agency to set up a master plan for developing the education sector in general:

The Ministry in charge of Education shall set up a master plan for developing the education sector in compliance with the policy of the Supreme National Council of Education, and be responsible for developing, reviewing, and modifying education policies, principles, plans, and strategies in accordance with the national policies and strategic development plans.

(Cambodia Education Law, 2007)

From this law, the MoEYS prepared two other legal documents—the Policy on Higher Education Vision 2030 (MoEYS, 2014b) and the Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018 (MoEYS, 2014a). The last part of Article 13 of the 2007 Education Law regarding the managerial autonomy of higher education institutions is realized in the Education Strategic Plan 2014—2018 of the MoEYS. This plan attempts to regulate the managerial autonomy of higher educational establishments through the provision to “prepare a regulation on the HEI (Higher Education Institutions) autonomy in 2014” (MoEYS, 2014a, p. 36). However, none of these legal documents have clear regulations on the language of instruction in higher education. Nonetheless, the movement toward English seems to be embedded in the emphasis on the knowledge and skills needed to live and work in the era of globalization and the reform effort to meet the regional and international standards of higher education, reflected in these later documents.

In the Policy for Higher Education Vision 2030, publicly available on the MoEYS’s website, the vision is “to build a quality higher education system that develops human resources with excellent knowledge, skills and moral values in order to work and live within the era of globalization and knowledge-based society” (MoEYS, 2014b, p. 3). This vision specifically refers to globalization, and one of its strategies is to “develop a targeted plan to enhance professional skills for all Accreditation Committee of Cambodia staff to ensure that quality assurance processes applied to Cambodian HEIs are consistent with regional and international standards” (MoEYS, 2014b, p. 4). This vision and strategy implicitly place English language instruction at the center of Cambodian education.

Using the text in the vision document, the MoEYS formulated its Education strategic plan 2014—2018. The connection between these two documents is the use of regional and international standards as a yardstick for the improvement of higher education in Cambodia. This effort to ensure that the quality of higher education (abbreviated as HE in the quote below) in Cambodia is consistent with regional and international standards and provides a strong rationale for the increasing use of English in Cambodian higher education (HE). For instance, two of the strategies of the MoEYS are to “strengthen capacity absorption of students at regional HE,” and “enhance curriculum diversification and priority programs with ASEAN standards” (MoEYS, 2014a, p. 36).

Moreover, in many programs and activities in this strategic plan, the different departments and development partners of the MoEYS will have their staff members “attend national and international workshops, training programs and study visits on curriculum development ... on learning and teaching methodology ... on higher education quality assurance ... and on research and development” (MoEYS, 2014a, pp. 37-38). These activities are usually conducted in English, given English is the lingua franca of ASEAN and the region.

The fourth document in this data set was prepared at Cambodia University: the Strategic Plan 2014—2018. Much of the wording of this document is borrowed from the text of the Education Strategic Plan 2014—2018 of the MoEYS. These passages include the following:

  • 1. Enhance teaching staff and middle-level administrative staff to hold at least master’s degrees with both English and ICT [Information and Communications Technology] competence;
  • 4. increase the number of international students in all types of courses;
  • 5. enhance student and faculty exchange with universities in the ASEAN University Network (AUN) and other partner universities
  • (CU Strategic Plan, 2014—2018, unpublished, p. 4)

Professional development opportunities for staff members through internships, fellowships, or scholarship opportunities for working and studying abroad usually require candidates to have a high level of English proficiency as demonstrated through international tests, such as the TOEFL or IELTS. This requirement is typically reflected in the scholarship announcements publicly displayed on the notice boards at the university, in which a TOEFL or IELTS score is one of the important criteria for selection. This need for high English proficiency becomes even more important when faculty members or students want to present their academic papers at international conferences or to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals, as English has been adopted by many international conferences and publishers.

Only one of CU’s strategies mentions the plan to create a Center for Khmer Studies, and this plan extends the MoEYS’s strategy to promote the Khmer language through translating important publications into Khmer and publishing research papers in Khmer. This Center may play an important role in Khmer language promotion. Khmer continues to be used as a medium of instruction in many of the programs at CU; however, whenever resources allow, EMI is employed or English proficiency is encouraged through the promotion of EFL classes.

Social, Economic, and Political Contexts for the Language Policy

In this section, I will discuss three important contexts for the policy decisions on the medium of instruction in Cambodian higher education: the development scholarships provided to Cambodian students, the economic integration of the ASEAN nations, and the internationalization of the university. These three contexts emerged in the interview data with university teachers and administrators and in the scholarship and job announcements collected at the university. These contexts are important in understanding the implementation of the language policy discussed in the previous section.

Each year, hundreds of scholarships are provided to Cambodian students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The most prestigious of these are from English speaking countries, such as the Australian Awards from the Australian government, the Fulbright scholarships from the U.S. State Department, the New Zealand Development Scholarships from the New Zealand government, and the Che veiling Scholarships from the government of the United Kingdom. To access detailed information or be eligible for these scholarships, candidates need to be highly proficient in English, as demonstrated by their scores on the TOEFL or IELTS tests.

Moreover, even the scholarships provided to Cambodian students by nonEnglish speaking countries such as Japan, Korea, and Thailand require a high English proficiency level demonstrated in the TOEFL or IELTS tests. Here is a typical example of an eligibility requirement for the scholarships (from a one-page hard copy advertisement): “be a national of Cambodia or Lao PDR, hold a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, be proficient in English, ... be of good health physically and mentally” (2015 ASEA-UNINET Thailand On-Place Scholarships under the ASEA-UNINET [ASEAN-European Academic University Network] Programme for Cambodia and Lao PDR). English language proficiency is usually one of the important requirements for these scholarships, and this fact provides a strong rationale for universities in Cambodia to offer EMI programs, or, when not having enough resources to do so, to offer Khmer Medium Instruction programs with a strong EFL component.

Another context for the policy is the ASEAN economic integration, which was launched in December 2015. This agreement calls for a free flow of goods, labor, and services within its 10 member countries. The integration aims to help boost the economy of each member state by attracting investors and creating jobs in the region; it has also been perceived to create competition among the goods, labor, and services of each member state.

The fact that English has been adopted as a working language of ASEAN has significantly influenced the language choices for the medium of instruction in Cambodian higher education. To participate in ASEAN meetings, workshops, or trainings, delegates need to have a good level of English proficiency. For instance, according to the interviews with Tim (all names used in this study are pseudonyms), a head of a department at CU, many of the staff members working for different ministries of the Cambodian government, including the MoEYS, have had English language training at his department to enable them to participate in ASEAN meetings more effectively:

We are doing training for the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Commerce. They try to equip their students, their staffs with English knowledge. What they say is at least their staffs can have meeting with uh... the other countries in the region, they can present in international conferences, at least they understand what the other people are doing.

(Tim, Interview, 11 March 2015)

Mony, a content instructor at CU, also observed that some universities have started to offer English language-based programs as a result of this (ASEAN economic) integration. Mong and Pichey (other content instructors at CU) often use this integration as motivation to encourage students to learn English so that they can be more competitive in the labor market. Moreover, Chunry, the head of another department at CU, explained his choice for EMI in his department: “Because in the region, English is the official language of ASEAN, it is even more important and we make the right decision from the beginning to adopt English as a medium of instruction and to strengthen English” (Interview, 22 March 2015). Moreover, as discussed earlier, the use of ASEAN standards as a goal for Cambodian higher education was also seen in many of the policy documents including the MoEYS’s Higher Education Policy Vision 2030 (MoEYS, 2014b) and Strategic Plan 2014-2018 (MoEYS, 2014a), and CU’s Strategic Plan 2014-2018.

The last context for the policy decisions is the internationalization of the university. The effort to internationalize the university includes not only using regional and international standards in university reform, but also establishing more international programs often with English as a medium of instruction. This goal to internationalize the university is important for the promotion of EMI courses and the teaching of EFL in Cambodia. For instance, on his rationale for EMI, Chunry added:

The first reason for this (EMI) is because we prepare it as an international program. It means that we are one part of the university programs for the internationalization, meaning the instruction is in English. That’s the first reason. The second is that we see a strong need for English of the labor market, that students need to know English. Also, the economic, political, and regional situations, the ASEAN integration, and the world integration make us choose English as a medium of instruction.

(Interviens, 22 March 2015)

The choice of EMI programs and the promotion of teaching EFL are in line with CU’s strategic plans to promote student and faculty exchanges with its partner universities, to encourage students and faculty to become members of professional societies and publish in peer-reviewed journals, and to increase the number of international students. All of these activities, which are significant parts of CU’s internationalization effort, require university programs with a strong English language component. Mong sees internationalization of the university as a trend that cannot be stopped and equates sticking to the Khmer language to being conservative:

We can’t stop this trend because the trend is moving toward globalization. So, we can’t be conservative and think we have to use the national language; because if we look at big universities now, they are moving toward internationalization. So, we can’t just keep on using Khmer language, but we have the Khmer language department, which specializes in the training in Khmer language. And for other courses if we still think like that, we won’t be able to compete with other universities abroad.

(Interviens, 23 March 2015)

Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research

While the policies do not explicitly state what languages are to be used as the medium of instruction in higher education in Cambodia and at what level this decision is to be made, they seem to encourage a decentralization of power in the decision-making at the university level. However, it is clear that the promotion of the English language is embedded in the wording of many of the policy documents, which are strongly connected to one another. For instance, the MoEYS reform effort to promote the quality of higher education to meet regional and international standards is seen in the Policy on Higher Education Vision 2030 (MoEYS, 2014b), the MoEYS’s Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018 (MoEYS, 2014a), and CU’s Strategic Plan 2014-2018.

Also, the diversification of the curricula based on regional and international standards and the strengthening of Cambodia University’s ability to absorb international students imply the internationalization of selected programs and/or creation of new international programs. This internationalization provides a good context for the increasing use of the English language in Cambodian universities. Only one of the programs and activities related to research and publication in the strategic plan mentions the idea of promoting the Khmer language in higher education by translating important publications into Khmer while also encouraging the publication of original research papers in the Khmer language.

Although the importance ofEnglish is emphasized in many policy documents and by different policy actors, school administrators and teachers should not assume that the adoption of English as a medium of instruction will make their programs effective. They need to consider the level of English proficiency of their students and instructors and how well they can navigate grade-level content instruction in English. Actually, in his examination of the economic and demographic data of the Greater Mekong Sub-region that includes Cambodia, Bruthiaux (2008) found that because of poverty, low literacy rates, and the agriculture-based economies, many people in the area are not yet likely to experience life with English. He went on to question the notion of the need for English fluency in the population to participate in the global economy and suggested that policymakers in the region should focus on the improvement of literacy in a local language of the population instead. In the current context of Cambodian higher education in particular, academic programs may benefit more from some forms of the bilingual model for the medium of instruction, in which both Khmer and English are used strategically and purposefully.

In addition, it is interesting to note that the formulation of policy documents, like those I reviewed for this study, usually involves international organizations such as the World Bank, which provide grants and loans for different projects at the MoEYS (Ford, 2015). Even within the Ministry’s own working groups that draft these documents, there are typically high-ranking officials with graduate degrees from foreign countries where English is used as a medium of instruction. Also, the MoEYS typically requests consultants from Western countries such as the US or Australia to assist in drafting these documents. This assistance creates a perfect condition for the use and promotion of English, and many of these legal documents may initially be prepared in English and only later translated into Khmer.

The analysis of the policy documents above shows a growing influence and power of English and English speakers, particularly in higher education in Cambodia. This influence and this power are reflected in a strong emphasis in these documents on skills needed to live and work in the era of globalization, the movement toward regional and international standards, and the ability to participate fully in a global system of quality-assured higher education. English language learning and use is expanding as Cambodia becomes more integrated into the ASEAN Economic Community and makes efforts to internationalize its universities.

With regard to the Khmer language, the documents examined in this study explicitly promote its use in higher education through the effort to translate important research publications and promote the publishing of research papers in Khmer. This promotion is also expressed in CU’s plan to establish a Center for Khmer Studies. Such a center would be a major contribution to the translation and Khmer publication effort. However, such translation efforts are not without challenges, given the lack of resources of the MoEYS and the increasing use of English, specifically in the publication of research and instructional materials. Added to this lack of resources are the many challenges of producing an accurate translation of even a single textbook, as evidenced in a case study detailing attempts to create a Khmer version of a textbook used in an undergraduate science course at a university in Cambodia (Quigley et al., 2011).

Future research may include the examination of the situated social actions of policymakers at the national level and the investigation of a larger context for policy decision-making, such as the developmental assistance provided to MoEYS by its partners, such as the World Bank. Such investigations may shed important light on the different ideologies behind the policy statements analyzed in this study. Future research may also need to examine this language-in-education policy at a classroom and school level and investigate what language(s) is/are generally used.


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