Because of the years of devastation, many people have grown up without formal schooling. As a result, less than half of Cambodians are literate. However, primary, secondary and higher educational institutions are being reopened. More than a million primary school students attend classes in 5,000 schools, and more than 300,000 secondary students attend about 200 high schools. There are eight colleges and universities with an enrollment of 35,000.
Children from six to twelve are required to go to school. The language of instruction is Khmer. The school year starts in October and continues until June. Primary school lasts five or six years. Middle school lasts for three years. A diploma is given to students who have completed this level successfully. Secondary school lasts three years. After the first two years, students earn a diploma called a baccalaureate. A second baccalaureate is given at the end of the third year. Some schools offer education in vocational and technological areas.
 Did you know?
Before independence in 1953, most students learned by memorizing what the teacher said. Textbooks were not in the Khmer language.

Women and girls are now encouraged to attend school. In the past, when village wats operated the local school, only boys attended. Primary schools now include 35% girls. In secondary schools 25% of the students are young women.

An important subject for Cambodian students is land mines. Teachers tell the pupils how to recognize different kinds of land mines. Children learn that land mines can be found in various sizes, colours and shapes and can be made of wood, metal or plastic.

Before the Pol Pot regime, Buddhists, Christian missionaries, Chinese, Vietnamese and Europeans ran private schools and Cambodia had nine universities. The University of Phnom Penh offered courses in humanities, social sciences, technology and mechanics, law and economics and medicine.

Cambodia is working hard to upgrade standards for teachers. The Cambodian Assistance to Primary Education (CAPE) project has been launched to improve the standard of teaching in primary schools. However, some schools lack equipment, textbooks, laboratories and buildings.

 Did you know?
From 1979 to 1986 Cambodia was governed by Vietnam and Russia. Many students were taught in French and Russian. Now many students study in English.