Cambodia: National Policy on Lifelong Learning, issued in 2019

  • 21 October 2020
Phnom Penh
© Dmitry A. Mottl


In the context of globalization in the twenty-first century, Cambodia’s National Policy on Lifelong Learning has been conceived to maximize human resource development to enable the country to progress to upper middle-income status by 2050, in a sustainable manner. In the context of globalization in the twenty-first century and social, economic, political, environmental, cultural, industrial and technological advancements, all individuals must become lifelong learners in order to cope with a rapidly changing world. The national policy embodies strategies, action plans, monitoring and evaluation, and implementing principles as supporting mechanisms for developing human capital in Cambodia and responding to individual and social needs and market demands. In addition, the National Policy on Lifelong Learning aims to provide and support all citizens to access the various types of education and to utilize the knowledge they gain to improve their job prospects and quality of life.

Concept of lifelong learning

Lifelong learning is considered a useful education tool that contributes to the well-being of youth and adults, helps them realize their rights, and assists them in responding to growing job market demands. Lifelong learning is defined as a learning process, which covers formal, non-formal and informal modalities across the whole lifespan. It aims to develop learners’ knowledge, skills and attitudes and promotes a culture of peace and harmony. Importantly, lifelong learning aims to leave no one behind and promotes access to learning opportunities for all, particularly for vulnerable groups.

Main challenges

Cambodia’s National Policy on Lifelong Learning lists two main challenges and calls for sector-wide and participatory collaboration to address them:

  • High drop-out rates and poor education quality: While the net enrolment rate in Cambodia’s primary schools stood at about 97 per cent for the last 10 years, only about 80 per cent of those enrolled managed to finish Grade 6; 40 per cent finished lower secondary; and just 20 per cent finished upper secondary school. Moreover, national assessment results showed that almost half of the students tested in Grades 3, 6 and 8 failed to attain the expected knowledge articulated in the curriculum.
  • Limited productivity: This concerns all sorts of enterprises and institutions and is linked to a low level of education among the female labour force (completion rates for women and girls range from 27.8 per cent for primary education to 14 per cent for lower-secondary, 6.8 per cent for upper-secondary education and 5.4 per cent for tertiary education). Moreover, a study, conducted by the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations in 2008 provided evidence that workers in technical professions show a lack of soft skills (i.e. communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills).

Main targets and measures

The National Policy on Lifelong Learning aims to enhance learning opportunities and skills development for all individuals, by:

  • developing a legislative framework and mechanisms to ensure that lifelong learning is widely and comprehensively implemented;
  • providing lifelong learning opportunities in formal, non-formal and informal contexts, covering a wide range of learning contents and purposes, particularly for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;
  • developing a comprehensive and flexible lifelong learning programme that promotes literacy as well as skills development;
  • establishing lifelong learning centres with adequate learning materials, equipment and technological resources;
  • providing capacity-building for lifelong learning programme coordinators comprising information about programme design, material development, teaching methods, orientation, and technical and professional skills development;
  • improving the recognition, validation and accreditation of knowledge, skills and competences acquired through lifelong learning programmes in accordance with the Cambodian National Qualification Framework (CNQF), ensuring transparency and consistency;
  • promoting a culture of global citizenship; for example, by motivating families, communities and particularly vulnerable and marginalized groups to engage in lifelong learning and to eliminate discrimination of all forms;
  • promoting gender equality, equity and inclusion; for example, by making lifelong learning opportunities accessible for disadvantaged and marginalized groups and by prioritizing drop-out students, vulnerable and ethnic minority groups, migration workers and unemployed persons to gain vocational and technical skills;
  • supporting education through technology; for example, by raising awareness of lifelong learning through mass media and by encouraging the use of technology in education; and
  • encouraging the private sector, development partners and NGOs to participate in providing lifelong learning services; for example, by motivating enterprises and institutions to provide lifelong learning opportunities for workers and employees.

Particular feature of the policy

The Cambodian National Policy on Lifelong Learning includes a measure dedicated to fostering collaborations with the private sector, development partners and NGOs to provide lifelong learning opportunities. Incentives shall be provided to enterprises, companies, factories, small businesses and the agriculture sector, among others, to support and participate in lifelong learning. Both enterprises and institutions shall be encouraged to provide workers and employees with lifelong learning opportunities to improve their knowledge, competences and skills. The policy further suggests to build networks with local service providers for developing lifelong learning curricula. Collaborations with the civil society as well as initiatives of parents and communities to develop lifelong learning programmes are seen as another important element to promote lifelong learning.

Relevant documents that the policy refers to:

Stakeholders involved in the development of the policy:

Stakeholders responsible for implementation of the policy:

  • Prime Minister and Deputy Education, Youth and Sport
  • Permanent Deputy Director (Cambodia National Committee for Lifelong Learning)
  • Prime Minister of Cambodia
  • Minister of Ministry of


Issuing body: Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport