CIES 2012: Hidden privatization of public education in Cambodia

Comparative and International Education Society

William Brehm, This Life Cambodia; Iveta Silova, Lehigh University, USA

“Hidden privatization of public education in Cambodia: equity implications of private tutoring”

The 1990s international construction of a new political economic order in Cambodia after two decades of civil unrest has had contradictory effects on education. The rhetoric of democracy thrives alongside corruption and human rights abuses; and the Education for All initiative exists alongside privatization of public education. In this context, private tutoring has emerged as an essential part of the public education system. A mastery of the required curriculum is now possible only through a careful combination of public schooling and private tutoring. Only those who can afford private tutoring thus receive access to the complete national curriculum while those who cannot are stigmatized. This paper draws on an analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, including 28 classroom observations (evenly split between private tutoring and public school classes), 20 focus groups with a total of 100 participants, grade and attendance tracking of 444 9th grade and 200 6th grade students, and informal interviews with 20 participants. The presentation concludes by explaining how a seamless combination of public schooling and private tutoring in terms of curriculum and pedagogy creates a public-private educational arrangement that stratifies Cambodian youth along socioeconomic, interpersonal, and familial lines.

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