Skills Bridging in TVET: The Cambodia Experience

What do you do in a small country which after thirty years of war and massive rural poverty, has well over a million out of school youth with no skills and no real hope of a future career?

Cambodia faced this challenge and fortunately, the ADB managed Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) was prepared to listen to an idea and take a risk. ‚Äč

TVET students gathering in tent - Cambodia

At first, the idea of Skills Bridging (SB) did not really get enthusiastic support. Some claimed that skills bridging had not really worked in countries where it had been tried.

Others, thought that young people would not be interested but there was enough support to try it as a pilot so the project started. 

The main objective of SB is to bring trainees up to the academic entry standard required by the Government to certificate programs in Technology.

The concentration is on Mathematics, Science, and Khmer. to a standard set by the teachers who actually teach the certificate programs so the requirement was competency not an arbitrary academic level.

The pilot targeted 700 young people who have dropped out of school before completing Grade 9. And the intent was to either qualify them to start on a Technology career path or get a job.

Skills Bridging Graduates Looking at Exam Schedule
Skills bridging graduates looking at exam schedule.

Pilots on Skills Bridging

The 3 pilots were offered in Government institutions which already mounted certificate programs. In this way, the trainees could get ideas about what programs to register in upon completion of Skills Bridging and passing the required test.

The three centres, Kampot, Battambang and Phnom Penh, recruited from the communes within their regular service area. The 3 training centres were given help in community promotion, budget management, activity monitoring and general performance reporting.

Each model planned to train a minimum of 233 youth drop-outs over 2 years. Provision was made for 168 hours of training per trainee. To be eligible, the recruit must meet the following requirements:

  • (i) have completed grade 7 or be able to read and write at the equivalent level of a grade 7 graduate
  • (ii) have been out of school for at least one school year,
  • (iii) be 16 years of age or older
  • (iii) be sufficiently motivated, in the judgement  of the selectors to complete the program,
  • (iv) live close enough to the SB tutorial centres to easily participate in the program without additional travel expense,
  • (v) give evidence of sufficient family support in the provision of food to sustain them during the bridging period,
  • (vi) express an interest in further training on completion of the bridging at a recognized training institution.

Before the first sessions started, the Project provided training for Tutors in each of the TTCs. The National Teacher Training Institute (NTTI) provided leadership in setting the curriculum and a complete learning package was given to every trainee.

NTTI also developed the final assessment test together with the teaching staff of the TTCs to ensure a complete correlation between student achievement and the entry requirements of the certificate programs. 

A training cost of $172 per trainee was budgeted. There was also a small budget available for learning equipment to ensure the technology orientation of the training. A funds-flow model had been developed to transfer funds to the TTCs. Budget was incentive based (meeting milestones) and distributed hinged to real costs as shown in invoices submitted.

To cover monitoring, provision of transport, communications costs and general management services including financial services but not training cost, the TTCs was allotted $4000 for each pilot. TTC accounts were backfilled every three months based on costs incurred which may not exceed $20,000 per year.

The first round of training took place between February 2010 and August 2010. Performance Assessment took place in the third week of September 2010. A second test was offered in the 4th week of September for trainees not successful in the first assessment.  

By careful budget management, the pilots were able to train over 900 young people instead of the original target of 700. Over 70% of the participants passed the assessment and more than 60% of those who started in SB went on to Certificate programs.

Of the remainder, the majority found employment and a few left the country to work abroad. In the final independent assessment of the project, the evaluator concluded that the project was entirely successful, meeting all of its objectives. The Government was so positive on the outcomes that it has taken very scarce resources from other activities to begin rolling out SB across the country. 

Skills Bridging Students with their Certificates.

Here’s an overview of the 3 skills bridging models: 

Model 1: Center Based-NTTI

In Phnom Penh, NTTI recruited students to take regular tutorials for 3 hours a night, 2 nights a week for 28 weeks (168 hours). It also integrated some basic technology into Skills Bridging materials to link academic learning to applied technology such as introduction to computers (basic literacy) as well as Measurement in Technology, (Math) Technology Basics (Science), Technical Reporting (Khmer) and a module on Employability Skills.

NTTI received a budget of $40000 ($20000 per year) to cover direct training costs of the 2-year Skills Bridging program. About $25000 was allotted to pay Tutors which included an hourly fee plus incentive for trainee success. Each Tutor handled a minimum of 5 students but no more than 7. NTTI paid the Tutors 10,000Riel per hour ($2.50). For each successful trainee, the Tutor gets an incentive of 25,000 Riel. 

NTTI provided:

  • Curriculum meeting the Directorate of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (DGTVET) certificate programs entry skills requirements in Math, Science, Khmer, and Introduction to Computers, acceptable to the project Consultants with adaptations to make it relevant for pre-technology students 
  • Program coordination and supervision
  • Accounts for all Project Funds received as directed by JFPR/PMU staff
  • Recruitment of suitable tutors
  • Accurate attendance records
  • Recruitment of trainees 
  • Completion of an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) by each student
  • Student follow up for registered students who miss a class (cell phone)
  • Appropriate space
  • Necessary training related equipment
  • Photo copy of learning resources for trainees
  • Additional tutorial support for a period of 2 weeks to trainees who are unsuccessful in their first attempt at the Standards Assessment Test (SAT)  at the completion of training
  • Assistance in developing the final SAT
  • Assistance in administering and grading the SAT
Cambodian Students

Model 2: Community Based Model- Kampot Institute of Polytechnics

For this model, Kampot Institute of Polytechnics (KIP) selectively recruited a number of non-government organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs) or Individual Tutors to deliver approved curriculum in the Commune(s) in which they worked.

Tutors recruited trainees, set up learning groups of 5 trainees in each group, a tutor having as many as 4 groups, completed an Individual Learning Profile ( ILP) for each student and submitted to KIP for approval, met 2 times each week for 2 hours with each group, contacted trainees by SMS between classes to see if there were problems, ensured students attended the performance assessment. 

KIP received 15% of the contract value based on the performance of the CBOs in recruiting and maintaining assigned trainee numbers. This covered all administrative and supervisory costs of KIP’s involvement in the Skills Bridging Pilot. 

KIP also provided training for up to 2 groups of 5 students in each of the 2 years of the Project on the same financial base outlined below for the CBO providers 

A provision was made within the $40,000 TTC allocation for teaching materials and supplies other than basic curriculum materials. This was based on $1.00 per student week which was paid to KIP based on actual enrolment.

KIP provided:

  • Curriculum meeting the DGTVET certificate Programs entry skills requirements in Math, Science, Khmer, and Introduction to Computers, acceptable to the project Consultants with adaptations to make it relevant for pre-technology students or the assured use of the NTTI Skills Bridging Curriculum
  • Program coordination and supervision including an individual contact for the project Consultants
  • Accounts for all Project Funds received as directed by JFPR/Project Management Unit (PMU) staff
  • Quarterly reports to the Project Consultants/PMU
  • Recruitment of suitable Community Based Organizations (CBOs)
  • Supervision of the training provision by the CBOs including on going monitoring
  • Payment of the CBOs based on Consultant/PMU Direction
  • Supervise the recruitment of effective Tutors
  • Additional tutorial support for a period of 2 weeks to trainees who are unsuccessful in their first attempt at the Standards Assessment Test (SAT) at the completion of training
  • Assistance in developing the final SAT
  • Assistance in administering and grading the SAT


CBOs provided:

  • Supervision and direct support to all training assigned
  • Recruitment of Tutors meeting Project criteria
  • Recruitment of trainees 
  • Completion of an ILP by each student
  • Accurate attendance records of trainees
  • Student follow up for registered students who miss a class (cell phone)
  • Appropriate training space
  • Necessary training related equipment
  • Photo copy of learning resources for trainees


Incentive based Payment Model for Tutors Used by KIP

  • Tutors (either direct hires or those working through NGO/CBO were paid as follows:
  • 25,000 Riel for each trainee recruited with a completed ILP and approved. Maximum 5,825,000 Riel- $1387.00)
  • There were up to 46 groups, 23 each year. Groups met 3 hrs a day, 2 times a week, 28 weeks.
  • Tutors received 6000 Riel an hour for instruction (3 hrs x 2 times a wk  x 6000= 36,000 Riel a week to the tutor for each group, up to 4 Groups for each Tutor with 5 to 7 students in each group).
  • 25,000 Riel paid to tutors for each of the 233 Trainees completing the training and passing the exit assessment. 
  • Total payment to tutors for 1 year of project was  3 hrs x 2 times a wk x 28 weeks x 6000 R an hour x 23 groups= 23,184,000 R (plus recruitment and graduation incentives of 5,825,000 R = 29,009,000 R. 
  • CBOs received 15% of the total payment to Tutors. 
  • Total payment possible to CBOs = 5,720,400  ($1362.00 per year for 2 years) (3×3 model gives 4258.28)
  • KIT received 15%.

 

Model 3: Alternate Provider Model-Battambang Institute of Technology 

Battambang Institute of Technology (BIT) acted as activity supervisor on behalf of the PMU in the delivery by a single experienced SB Provider recruited by the Project. The provider had a teaching location in the Province with residence facilities.

The model included both part time and full time learners although the total training hours per trainee (168 hours) remained the same as the other 2 models as did the cost per student ($172.00).

A provision was made within the $40,000 TTC allocation for teaching materials and supplies other than basic curriculum materials. This was based on $1.00 per student week to be paid to the TTC based on actual enrolment.

BIT employed a private provider, Don Bosco Foundation, to deliver the training.

  • Don Bosco received up to $40,000 based on performance milestones
  • 20% mobilization allowance
  • 50%  at the mid point of training (208 hours)
  • 20% on completion of training by at least 80% of trainees
  • 10% on at least 70% of those writing the SAT being successful


BIT provided:

  • Program coordination and supervision
  • Accounts for all Project Funds received as directed by JFPR/Project 
  • Quarterly reports to the Project Consultants/PMU
  • Recruitment of a suitable private sector provider
  • Supervision of the training provision by the Provider including on going monitoring
  • Payment of the Provider based on Consultant/PMU Direction
  • Invoicing PIB (the DGTVET-Battambang Bank account manager)
  • Assistance in developing the final Standards Assessment Test (SAT)
  • Assistance in administering and grading the SAT


The Provider was responsible for:

  • Supervision and direct support to all training assigned
  • Curriculum that led to mastery of the  agreed Standards to prepare for SAT
  • Recruitment of Tutors meeting Project criteria
  • Recruitment of trainees 
  • Completion of an ILP by each student
  • Accurate attendance records of trainees
  • Student follow up for registered students who miss a class (cell phone)
  • Appropriate training space
  • Necessary training related equipment
  • Photo copy of learning resources for trainees
  • The provider was encouraged to use the incentive based model to pay Tutors

The Project was managed by the Directorate of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training Cambodia. 

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