Bribery and Corruption in Cambodia’s Schools
In Cambodia, the public schools are so poor and the teachers so underpaid that parents often have to resort to paying bribes to the teachers to allow their children into the classrooms.
In other words, if you want your child to get education, you have to pay the bribe. Never mind that it is a government funded public school. Children whose parents cannot afford the bribes, around USD $0.50 each day, simply do not go. When I was traveling in Cambodia in 2009 I met many children who did not go to school due to this reality. Instead, they spent their days trolling the streets of Phnom Penh selling refreshments or snacks or flat out begging tourists for money, their attitudes and expressions energetic and enthusiastic despite their situation. What do their parents tell them each night without the slightest prospect of a better day tomorrow?
Children Miss out on School Because of Corruption
For many of us the concept of education was taken for granted when we were children, when all that was required of us was that we showed up at a certain time and did not make too much noise during class. A sad fact of life for children in developing nations is the existence of corruption in the classroom. It affects everything from teacher preference for students to systemic plagiarism and cheating that goes overlooked to final grade reports.
In many parts of the developing world children have only partial access to public education. Public education is not always “free” as we have come to know public education in the United States and other Western nations. In the developing world, a “free” public education only means that the bare bones items are there to make it look like a classroom, but bribes special favors, and connections are needed to actually get your kid into the classroom. Some NGO’s in Cambodia and other countries operate programs which identify at risk individuals or those which show exceptional intelligence and academic potential and provide their families with a stipend which allows the children to attend school without making the family suffer further financial hardship.
Cambodia and other nations still building-up their school systems need to utilize every free and open education resource available to them, including Khan Academy, Skillshare courses, and other internet, open source education projects. The technology and the means exist to deliver world class teaching materials to children and teachers around the world exists, but its going to take smart minds to develop the materials and distribute them to the right people in key positions of influence around the world. Will you join us?