Migration and education

The Cambodian education system includes pre-school, primary education, general secondary education and higher education. Primary education lasts for six years and is compulsory. General education has two levels: lower secondary (grades 7-9), which in principle is compulsory, and upper secondary (grades 10-12). Students completing lower secondary education can either continue to upper secondary, or enrol in technical and vocational training programmes. Students who pass the national baccalaureate exam can enrol in higher education.

Despite the fact that most public services, including educational infrastructure, were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979), the country has managed to expand access to education. Cambodia's education outcomes have improved, but are still lower than in most countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The average adult in Cambodia has six years of schooling, which across the region is only higher than Myanmar (4.1 years) (uNDP, 2016). The National Institute of Statistics (NIS) estimates that the adult literacy rate - the share of the population aged 15 years and older who can read and write a simple message - is 78%: up from 69% in 2004 (NIS, 2015). The IPPMD data included a lower share of adults who stated that they could read and write: around 70%. This difference is likely to be explained by the preponderance of rural households in the IPPMD sample (Chapter 3), while literacy rates in general are higher in urban areas. Overall, the literacy rate for men is higher than for women.

IPPMD data show that school attendance rates are high for children aged 6-14 (93%),5 but drop sharply for youth between 15 and 17 years (down to 60%). School attendance rates for this age group are higher in urban areas (66%) than in rural areas (59%).

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