The policies pursued by Pol Pot were done in order to maintain ideological purity, absolute control, and party security. So, did philosophers like Fanon and Marx have an undermining influence on the morals of elitists in the political realm? In response to the extreme process of purification from anything “other”, Fanon stated that, “violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect” (p. 5).
If this is reflective of the anti-colonialism revenge that KSA advocated while they were in Paris, then it is plausible that Pol Pot was still seeking a personal vendetta from European powers. At its core, Marxism-Leninism is inherently oppressive. Isolated from the ideas of Lenin, Marxist philosophy determines that violence is often necessary for a communist revolution to succeed (Vandenbroek, 2008).
On the contrary, Marxists tend to have a proclivity toward arguing that murder and mayhem found in any Marxist regime from Lenin to Pol Pot, is an exception and not a true Marxist society. Pol Pot’s political agenda was largely comprised of Marxist-Leninist philosophies but owes the worst excess of its tyrannical reign to Stalinism. Stalinism is representative of a total authoritarian dictatorship that grants extensive control over the Communist Party and exercises an unprecedented level of violence to eliminate any opposition.
Pol Pot’s political agenda did not embody a pure Marxist-Leninist social policy because he was not concerned with universal social welfare and improvements in public health or education as a means of advancing the society. Alternatively, the radical program that politically scapegoated against any alleged threat to the regime was buttressed by brutal systematic terror campaigns. Chapter 3: Contemporary Educational Challenges “If education is the answer for Cambodian society, as so many experts assert, then the nation is lost” (Brinkley, 2011, p. 07). Brinkley’s words resonate with the crux of this chapter because it is here that I delve into the focus of my study.
After opening chapter 11 with this quote, Brinkley provides anecdotal evidence on the egregious nature of Cambodia’s educational system and elicits the notion that corruption contributes to trans-historical detrimental effects on societal values. Similarly, the data and arguments that comprise this section of my study assert that the flux of risis and progress that Cambodia’s education system represents is a determinant of a prior decade of civil conflict and genocide. Although the Khmer Rouge regime devastated through the mass destruction of Cambodia’s educational infrastructure, social culture, and three-quarters of its (educated) population, S. Dy (2004) notes that in 1979, “the rebirth of education in Cambodia represents a historically unique experience from any other nation” (p. 6).
The immediate progression into reconstructing and rehabilitating the education system in the 1980’s marks the PRK’s commitment to socioeconomic development and educational opportunities however, implementation of a policy toward enhancing and restructuring educational institutions was flawed. Rather than working toward a holistic sustainable development of the sector, focus was vested in quantity over quality.
A consequence of rapid educational expansion was that it was complemented by “very poor teaching standards, unqualified teachers and low quality in the provision of a standardized curriculum, texts and facilities” (Duggan, 2010, p. 367). Thirty years later, the reality is not much different. The political and economic disturbance of the Khmer Rouge continues to haunt the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation, despite the progress that Cambodia has achieved in terms of providing more children, especially in the rural and remote regions, with access to education.
Cambodia’s education sector faces immense challenges ranging from poor provision of efficient educational services, to teacher shortages and questions of teachers’ capacities, low educational outcomes of students and relatively high dropout rates, a lack of teaching and learning materials in the classroom; most of these contemporary challenges are exacerbated in the rural and remote areas (K. Dy, 2013, p. 8). That is why the state of quality education in Cambodia is questionable; its achievements have not been uniform (UNESCO, 2015).
In an effort to promote capacity building, one of the foremost aims of schooling in Cambodia is the holistic development of human capital for the economic development of the nation (Tan, 2007, p. 16). The focus on developing human capital through a knowledge-based society is reflected in MoEYS’ vision and mission statement: The MoEYS vision is to establish and develop human resources of the very highest quality and ethics in order to develop a knowledge-based society within Cambodia.
The MoEYS mission: In order to achieve the above vision, MoEYS has the mission of leading, managing and developing the Education, Youth and Sport sector in Cambodia in responding to the socio-economic and cultural development needs and the reality of globalization. (MoEYS, 2005, p. 1) Although priority policies and corresponding strategies are devised to benefit the educational needs of Cambodian youth, key concerns related to successful implementation of equitable access, especially for poor families living in rural regions remain overriding (Tan, 2007 p. 0).
Moreover, the contemporary challenges discussed in this chapter establish the linkage of education and democracy and the instabilities that arise as a result of a weak public sector service delivery system (USAID, 2015). Education increases people’s support for democracy, particularly in nations such as Cambodia, which have recently undergone democratic transitions (UNESCO, 2014, p. 17). Back in 2003, MoEYS implemented a long-term Education For All (EFA) National Plan comprised of targets and goals to be achieved by 2015.
The premise of the proposed reform would ensure increased educational opportunities for all, regardless of ethnicities, socioeconomic status, geographical backgrounds, gender and disabilities. Within that period, MoEYS set forth an Education Strategic Plan (ESP) 2006-2010 outlining three policies that affirm commitment to capacity building and human resource development. These include, (1) Increasing equitable access to educational services; (2) Quality and efficiency of education services; and (3) Institutional development and capacity building for decentralization (MoEYS, 2005).
The top-down and centralized strategy implemented by the MoEYS is comprised of a package of interventions that address both supply and demand factors that essentially aim to remove inequalities in Cambodian children’s accessibility, acceptability, availability, and adaptability of quality basic education services. However, implementing reforms and initiatives in this manner lacks consideration of the local level, is reflective of a culture of hierarchical promotions, and interferes with the goal of having a system with transparency and accountability.
While the policies are sound in nature, major shortcomings and inadequate implementation is not only increasingly common in Cambodia, it continues to limit progress toward each of these goals (IIEP, UNESCO, pg15). Multiple barriers, including inadequate infrastructure, a lack of facilities such as water pumps and latrines, a teacher workforce that exercises poor professionalism, and irect costs and informal fees are reasons why Cambodia’s education indicators are among the lowest in the region (USAID Cambodia, 2015).
Moreover, a combination of factors such as the government’s lack of adherence to the Law on Education and Constitution, which states that children are entitled to nine years of cost-free quality education, provokes financially constrained households to balance the value of sending their child to school against a backdrop of widespread poverty