English aid to develop Cambodia

June 16, 1995

It is true that Cambodians see English, not French, as the key to unlock the door to jobs (THES, May 12), and when one looks at where the investors are coming from (the English-using countries of East and South-east Asia) and at Cambodia's eagerness to join ASEAN this is reasonable.

But it is not the case that no English-speaking nation is providing support to English teaching, nor that "little English teaching is available". Wherever you go in Cambodia you will see notices advertising English classes, and people whose earnings are barely enough to survive seem to find a few riels to pay for them.

The quality of teaching, on the other hand, is very poor. Both Britain and Australia have projects to improve this. The Overseas Development Administration is funding a secondary school English teaching project through CfBT Education Services. Voluntary Services Overseas also has English teachers and teacher trainers.

No English-speaking country is making support conditional on English use. Support for English teaching is seen as developmental, whereas for French it is considered "cultural cooperation".

Harvey Smith


CFBT Education Services


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