Country-led Evaluation of the National Education Scholarship Programmes

The report presents the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the evaluation of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s primary and secondary scholarship programmes from 2015 to 2018.

strudents riding bike in front of school
UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Antoine Raap


In recent years, Cambodia has made impressive steps in economic growth, poverty reduction and improvements in educational attainment. The proportion of children out of school in Cambodia is lower than the average in East Asia and the Pacific (5 per cent at primary and 14 per cent at lower secondary are out of school in Cambodia, compared with 6 per cent and 15 per cent regionally). However, primary completion rates, particularly for boys, are still poor in Cambodia, as only 76 per cent completed primary in 2017-2018. Attainment rates are typically worse for children from poorer rural households. Learning, as measured by standardised tests, also leaves room for improvement, particularly for marginalised households.

The Royal Government of Cambodia aims to address these persistent poverty and equity challenges. The Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018, and the National Social Protection Strategy 2016-2025 set out plans for this. The scholarship programmes run by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports are key to these plans. The scholarship programmes aim to select children from poor households who are studying at upper primary (grades 4 to 6) or lower secondary (grades 7 to 9) levels, giving each child three payments of US$20 every year. In order to continue receiving scholarships, students should regularly attend school and have good results.

The idea is that if poor households receive scholarships, then they will spend more on and pay more attention to their children’s education. As a result, children will attend school more regularly, and be better prepared to learn. If these schools are working well, then these students will learn more. This extra learning should help them get a good job, if the economy is working well. This theory of change shows how the scholarships are expected to contribute to better education and reduced poverty in Cambodia.

In 2017-2018, the primary-level scholarships were given to 86,126 students in 4,611 primary schools, 52 per cent of whom were girls. The secondary-level scholarships were given to 71,669 students in 809 lower secondary schools, 60 per cent of whom were girls.

scholarship programme evaluation cover
Ian MacAuslan, Maham Farhat, Seng Bunly, Russell Craig, Saroeun Huy, and Pratima Singh
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