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“Basic literacy is very important to build up on the functional literacy,” he said, but functional literacy has many levels and is hard to test.
Literacy is an important factor in quality of life, he said.
It can improve one’s livelihood, skills and abilities, and help maintain peace.
Key challenges remain for Cambodia, including reducing the disparity of literacy rates among different groups.
Khatri said the adult literacy rate of Cambodia was 77.6 percent, but there was a wide gap between male (85.1 percent) and female (71 percent).
The gap is even wider between urban dwellers (90.4 percent) and those in rural areas (74 percent). Kan Kal, country director for Room to Read, a literacy NGO, said that urban-rural gap remained “worrisome.” Other experts worry that the progress in literacy has slowed.
According to government figures, the literacy rate stands at about 70 percent.But that may only be basic literacy, where another ability, functional literacy, is harder to define.Still, education experts say that still leaves 30 percent of the population without the ability to read or write, though that percentage could improve as the younger generation goes through school to learn to read and write.Ministry of Education officials say they count a total enrollment of 3.2 million students, with about 607,000 in urban areas and more than 2.5 million in rural areas.“This gathering of students at school means it is serving literacy,” Ou Eng, director general of the ministry, told VOA Khmer Thursday.
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“Cambodian students must get an education, and the first education is literacy.” The literacy rate has improved greatly in the last 10 years.