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Truancy & Dropout of Students in Rural Cambodian Schools

Truancy and/ or dropping out of school are negative aspects of the existent education systems, the world over. As such, dropping out of school was considered a norm historically, with existent policymakers and educators placing greater emphasis on how to get children into schools, rather than on how long such children would be able to stay in schools. Though the above two aspects have been in existence since the formative years of existent education systems, it is only until the 1990s that the issue became apparently visible, and hence causing considerable concern due to its resultant negative effects. Truancy on its part pertains to the undisciplined nature of skipping school by students/ pupils for long periods of time, not as a result of lacking access/ the means to an education, but for their own personal issues.

To be able to identify the problem faced, there is a need to consider the resultant problematic consequences of the above, with these being espoused through three different arenas. These are namely its effects on an individual's economic growth and income, states social expenditures, as well as the disruption of the EFA goal. It is undeniable that education is requisite towards boosting a nation's economic growth. As such, Adam Smith (1776) placed great value not only on education but further training of individuals, towards not only promoting their income but also enhancing the overall national economic growth. Consequently, the shorter the time frame spent in schooling, the higher dropout rates translating to greater impediment of a nation's socio-economic growth (Natriello G., 2002).

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By disrupting the greater realization of EFA targets, as existent in a given nation, dropout rates do fundamentally impact educational aspects of various generations as the above often tends to be intergenerational. With dropped-out parents tending to showcase low aspirations of their children's education, they inadvertently place greater risk on such young populations. The resultant feature is that such populations tend to have short educational periods, with such cycles resulting in the prolonging of a nation's EFA goal realization. Pertinently, this can be applied to developing nations, such as the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), where the vital implementation of various educational policies has seen a marked rise in gross enrolment rates.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that a sizeable percentage of enrolled children often do not reach set target levels of education, primarily, as a result of socio-economic factors. It is a problem that, unfortunately, received little attention from existent government service agencies as well as social workers, mainly as a result of the abundance of other priorities and issues faced in a given jurisdiction. While dropping out of school may be harder to tackle, truancy as such is an unexcused absence from school as pupils often do so without parental knowledge. Fundamentally, this stems from amongst peer influence, existing family aspects, bullying, delivery methods of existent curriculums utilized, as well as student relations with their educators (Levy, 1991).

The former is more difficult to tackle as it necessitates greater government participation as about existent welfare policies. The realization of education's importance, as well as resultant acute problems caused by high rates of school dropping out, has resulted in international organizations working closely with various governments towards ensuring equitable access to quality education. As a result, the recent MDGs Millennium Development goals, as well as the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1990 World Conference on Education for All (in Jomtien), and the 2000 Dakar Framework for Action attest to such cooperative efforts (Natriello 2002).

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The RGC is no exception as it has placed much emphasis on education as a tool towards socio-economic development. Rural populations, being impoverished, have showcased high rates of the aforementioned aspects. Incentive programs thus are vital towards eliminating the problem through intervention, peer tutoring, as well as mentorship programs. This should be achieved through an enhanced agreement between national objectives and aims, in addition to the requisite staff of both social and educational sectors operating at equal levels. Low salaries are a primary cause of high dropout rates as teachers eventually need to collect money (informally) from the student, in addition to lack of work motivation (Natriello, 2002).

Consequently, wide-scale poverty, corruption (as aforementioned), in addition to the bad management of schooling systems, are the major culprits responsible for such social contexts. Hence, different teaching techniques need to be enhanced as both child labor and poverty continue being aspects of Cambodia's rural areas. As such, the state has implemented various policies towards addressing the issue above, though, in the long run, it continues to cause concern due to a lack of requisite consecutive efforts towards addressing such issues. In addition to the above existent inequalities, low teacher quality, inadequate school facilities, spatial school presence as well as low degrees of community participation, all further negates such gains (Yukiko & No, 2012).

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Furtherance is the aspect of increased levels of income-generating work as well as housework which affected the girl children more than their male counterparts. Additionally, early marriage often sealed the fate of school participation among these Cambodian girls. Due to poor facilities for schooling, poor student-student/ teacher-student interaction, as well as the quality of curriculum and teaching, with these being the three most impactful determinants, I would recommend part-time learning, which should be village-based and hence available to a greater majority of affected children. Furtherance would be the need for community-based education systems, where aspirations towards enhanced education of children would be pegged.

This would effectively cater for late school entry, repetition, low aspirations for education as well as formal employment, high absenteeism rates existent. With the discouraging parental attitudes prevalent, community-based initiatives would be best placed towards providing a paradigm shift on the adult's part. It is necessary for existing parents to not only avail their boys to schooling but also their girls, hence providing household-level measures and mitigating these negative effects. Through addressing the socio-economic angle of this phenomenon, the RGC would further be required to formulate and implement real, community-based educational policies that effectively tackle existing social contexts in a wholesome manner (Keng, 2003).

Through a commitment to achieving universal 9-year basic education, the PGC's success has been through increased enrolment rates. To augment this, it would require enhanced peer tutoring and mentorship programs (community-based) which would increase interaction not only between teachers and students but amongst the students themselves. Because organizational theories portend to the nature and behavioral traits of people, as well as that of existent organizations as affecting the above, teachers would be required to invest in greater pedagogical, as well as educational knowledge. Parents on their part would be advised to further invest in their children's schooling, through reduced workloads, enhanced interest in their children's education as well as being supportive of various educational processes.

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Teachers on their part should be better motivated, both financially, as well as through better working conditions. With adequate career opportunities being existent, as well as augmented by supportive social/ educational services, teachers would be less inclined towards absenteeism while also increasing their overall motivation. Thus, through strategic implementation of all the aforementioned, through various measures pertaining not only to the government/ national level arena but also to the school, community, family, and individual level arenas, a better learning community would be created in both the urban and rural areas of the nation (No, 2012).

Additionally, enhanced collaboration with various existent interest groups/ parties would provide for better avenues, strategies as well as policy formulation towards the attainment of greater universal education amongst Cambodia's children, and especially so for those located in rural regions. While the issues of socio-economic stability and enhancement amongst a majority of the state's rural populations will require long-term solutions, in the short term, primary consideration should be given to community-based avenues of education provision. As a result, increased levels of student enrollment would occur, with this having the potential of gradually changing existent notions on education as held by a majority of the state's rural adult populations (No, 2012).

In conclusion, student education would be enhanced towards more participation and hence lead to higher chances of sustained education to various set levels. Consequently, it would result in higher educational achievement and hence the enhancement of the state's overall professional population, with this leading to greater socio-economic upward mobility.

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