While Cambodia continues to make strides with its education system, a gender attainment gap between girls and boys persists. But with its female-led student councils and gender equity programme, one set of schools in Siem Reap is bridging the divide.
The presence of Chbab Srey in classrooms well into the 20th century tells the uninitiated much of what they need to know about the power of gender roles in Cambodia’s education system.
An infamous 19th-century code of conduct guiding young girls on how they should behave – from respecting their husbands, to the way they should speak and move – it was only removed from the mandatory public school curriculum in 2007. Teachers, too, receive higher-than-average wages and are provided with an internationally developed curriculum. CFC schools are recognised by the Ministry of Education as the model for K-12 education across Cambodia and their curriculum shared nationwide, with teachers from across the Kingdom also coming to Siem Reap for training.
One of CFC’s flagship initiatives is its gender equity programme. She was herself a student at Bakong High before, benefiting from the programme she is now teaching.
«I was a student with CFC before, and the teachers then showed me the right direction to go in,» Srey Leak said. «My teachers taught us how to be strong and to believe in ourselves – what a boy can do, a girl can, also».
Girls face a complex web of social and cultural norms, societal discrimination and institutional barriers that prevent their full participation in education
Chak Sopheap, Cambodian Center for Human Rights
This article was written by ALEXI DEMETRIADI
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