Cambodia: Education Sector Development Program - 2010

The Education Sector Development Program (ESDP) was approved in 2001 to improve access to education for Cambodia’s impoverished students. In Cambodia, access to education is a significant gender issue, especially for the poor and in rural areas, with far fewer females than males benefiting from education. The gender gap increases with levels of schooling and is especially pronounced from lower secondary school onwards. Girls also have lower school survival rates than boys.Various social and economic reasons for the  under-representation of girls in schools  include  the costs of education, travel distances to schools, and a parental preference for the education of sons. The approved loans totalled $38 million.

The Education Sector Development Program (ESDP) was designed to help remove many of these access barriers to basic education for all, especially for girls and ethnic minority children. Implemented between 2002 and 2007, the ESDP produced a number of tangible gender equality results. The Government implemented an affirmative action education plan and policies to increase the participation of  girls  and ethnic minority children at all school levels. An incentive programs in the form of merit-based scholarships that targeted girls in lower secondary schools was also introduced. Consequently, the female share of total enrolments in lower secondary school grew from 30.0% to 45.6%, exceeding the target of 40.0%.  Likewise, the adult literacy rate for women rose to 64.1% in 2005, an increase of 11.0% from the year 2000 against a targeted 50.0% increase by 2015. More.