Curbing Private Tutoring and Informal Fees in Cambodia’s Basic Education
Informal fees threaten the quality of education, thwart the principle of equal access, and undermine the integrity of Cambodia’s basic education system. Private tutoring organized by the school, while providing short-term educational benefits to students and serving as a source of additional income for teachers, does not solve any fundamental problems associated with the study program, teachers’ abilities, or the quality of instruction. This is exacerbated by the absence of standardized testing or comparisons of school performances, which makes it impossible to assess teaching quality until students take the required national examination in the ninth grade. Private tutoring benefits some groups of students more than others, and is therefore detrimental to the fundamental principle of free basic education for all. Institutionalized private tutoring also reflects constricted learning values, in that students focus on learning only to pass examinations. Perhaps most serious, however, is the risk presented to student integrity. The direct involvement of students in monetary transactions with school staff, whether by paying teacher fees, purchasing handouts or snacks, or even for private tutoring, exposes them directly to the expectation of informal payments to those in authority.