• GPE partner since: 2006
  • Coordinating agency: UNICEF
  • GPE Secretariat Country Lead: Aya Kibesaki


At the completion of the School Health Integrated Program (SHIP) in Cambodia, partners reflect on its achievements in getting children screened for worms and vision problems, to ensure their health...
Earlier this month partners gathered to launch a new education program financed by a US$20.6 million GPE grant.
With a US$20.6 million in grant approved by GPE, Cambodia is launching an initiative to improve the quality of primary education, especially in grades 1, 2 and 3.

Education in Cambodia

Cambodia’s 2014-2018 Education Strategic Plan (ESP) fits into the country’s “Vision 2030” to build a sustainable, competitive and harmonious economy.

The ESP focuses on 7 key sub-sectors (early childhood education, primary education, secondary and technical education, higher education, non-formal education, youth development, and physical education and sport) and defines three main policies to achieve its expected objectives:

  • Policy 1: Ensure equitable access for all to education services
  • Policy 2: Enhance the quality and relevance of learning
  • Policy 3: Ensure effective leadership and management of education staff at all levels.

The ESP describes some of the following priority areas:

  1. Early childhood care and education expansion (ECE): Increase enrolment in community pre-school and home-based care services for the poor, ethnic minorities, and children with disabilities. Increase the 5 year olds’ enrollment in pre-schools to 80% in 2017-2018.
  2. Primary and secondary education: Ensure all school age children are enrolled and retained to the end of the school year and cycle. Organize school construction, particularly to increase lower secondary schools. Expand scholarship programs in primary and secondary education.
  3. School quality system and quality assurance: Develop a quality framework and tools to build the capacity of preschools, primary and secondary schools, and of teachers to meet service standards. This includes teacher training; provision of textbooks; school principal training; labs for science, computer and foreign languages; workshops for apprentice learning and sport fields.
  4. Technical and vocational education: Implement a national qualifications framework to improve the quality of technical and vocational education.
  5. Quality teaching: Teacher performance management and appraisal program.
  6. Higher education: Systematic reform of the higher education system to bring it in line with regional and international standards.
  7. Result-based management system: Develop and build capacity for an evidence- and outcome-based planning, budgeting and monitoring system at national and sub-national levels.
  8. Financial management and financing: Build capacity for budget formulation and execution, procurement, decentralization of budget to schools, improve financial management, and strengthen auditing functions.
  9. Literacy and lifelong learning: Create equivalency programs and mechanisms for literacy and lifelong learning.

According to national data, Cambodia allocated 18.31% of its budget to the education sector in 2016, with a view to reach 23% by 2020.

At the second GPE Replenishment Conference, the government committed to continue to strengthen the teaching force, institutional structures and the professional cadre to run the education system; and to further improve and strengthen its education management and information system (EMIS).


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent
Program implementation 2018-2021 20,600,000 - UNESCO/UNICEF
2014-2017 38,500,000 38,500,000 IBRD
2008-2012 57,360,856 57,360,856 IBRD
Sector plan development 2016 61,945 - UNICEF
2013 226,682 - UNESCO
Program development 2016 154,325 - UNESCO
2013 200,000 156,216 IBRD
  TOTAL 117,103,808 96,017,072  


Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.


Primary Gross Enrollment Rate (%)

Primary Completion Rate (%)

Lower Secondary Completion Rate (%)

Out-of-school Children Rate (%)

Domestic Financing

Public Expenditure on Education as Share of GDP (%)

Public Expenditure on Education as a Share of Public Expenditure (%)

Public Expenditure on Primary as a Share of Total Education Expenditure (%)


Student/Trained teacher ratio

Teachers Trained (%)

GPE in Cambodia

A teacher and her students in class at the Prek Eng Lower & Upper Secondary School in Cambodia. Credit: GPE/Livia Barton

The objectives of the first GPE grant of US$57.4 million were to speed up progress towards improved grade 1 right-age entry, net enrollment, retention, progression rates and grade 6 completion rates in primary education.

The second grant of US$38.5 million closed in July 2017. It had two main objectives:

  • Expand access to early childhood education for 3-5-year-old children
  • Contribute to improved access to, and quality of, basic education, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

These objectives were addressed through these key actions:

  • Construction of formal pre-schools, establishment of home-based pre-schools and community-based early childhood education programs.
  • Intensive pre-service training for ECE national trainers, and pre-service and in-service teacher and ‘core mother’ training.
  • Delivery of a communication campaign to increase parental awareness of the benefits of pre-school and information to pregnant mothers and mothers of children under two years old.
  • Expansion of the national primary and lower secondary scholarship program for poor and disadvantaged students in grades 4 to 9.
  • Support to students and teachers with poor vision and hearing through teacher training on disability screening and an expansion of the ministry’s school health program.
  • Nationalizing early grade reading and mathematics assessments.
  • In-service inclusive education training to teachers about children with disabilities and to school principals on effective management of teachers.
  • Training of school directors on school development planning and assessment systems.
  • Construction of district education offices.
  • Training of central, provincial and district education officials, as well as School Support Committee members, to develop and implement a unified early childhood and primary education sub-sector monitoring system.
  • Technical assistance to district education offices, particularly in rural areas, to provide effective academic management support to schools.

The coordinating agency for the education sector in Cambodia is UNICEF and the members of the local education group include the main development partners active in the education sector.

Source: World Bank project appraisal document. March 2014


The first GPE grant was instrumental in supporting Cambodia in making important progress in early childhood education and primary education. This grant contributed to piloting and establishing several key measures to improve access and quality in education, which are mainstreamed in the country’s ESP. The early childhood education component introduced new forms of service delivery modalities for 3-5-year olds and brought ECE for the first time into Cambodia’s development agenda. A primary education scholarship scheme was developed, established, and scaled up. The grant has helped cast light on the inclusion of children with disabilities in the education system, through the study on disability prevalence. Moreover, inclusive education components were included in the pre-service training of all teacher training colleges.

The second GPE grant helped Cambodia achieve the following results:

  • An additional 32,719 qualified teachers recruited or trained,
  • 3,861 community early childhood education teachers and core parents have been trained and received materials through the project,
  • 2,130 school principals have completed leadership training,
  • The number of children aged 3-5 who received early childhood education services has increased from 121,746 in 2016 to 125,337 in 2017,
  • 142,655 students received project-financed scholarships,
  • The enrollment ratio of 5-year-old children in urban and rural districts where 100 new formal and 1,000 new community-based pre-schools are provided has increased from 56.5% in 2013 to 68% in 2017,
  • The enrollment ratio of 5-year-old girls in the urban and rural districts where new 100 formal and 1,000 community-based preschool facilities are provided, has increased from 53.5% in 2013 to 69.4% in 2017,
  • The percentage of grade 3 students reaching 45-60 words per minute on the EGRA reached 68%, up from 51.5% in 2013,
  • 46.4% of girls were enrolled in lower secondary grades in 2017, compared to 37.4% only in 2013,
  • 7 provinces implement unified early childhood and primary education sub-sector planning and monitoring systems
  • The early grade math assessment (EGMA) has been rolled out in 5 provinces, and the National Assessments and publication of their results has been rolled out for Grades 3, 6, and 8,
  • A system for learning assessment at the primary level is available and utilized.

Source: World Bank implementation status and results report. June 2017 and World Bank implementation Completion report. January 2018

Last updated April 18, 2018