School Dropout Prevention Pilot Program

Although Cambodia has achieved a remarkably high net enrollment ratio for primary school, that rate falls dramatically for lower secondary school, when 20 percent of students abandon their studies.

The School Dropout Prevention Pilot program designs, implements and assesses interventions in four countries, including Cambodia. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The pilot focuses on six Cambodian provinces with some of the highest dropout rates in the country. It focuses on students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades, when dropout spikes most acutely. For example, an analysis by the School Dropout Prevention Pilot revealed that more than three-quarters of the at-risk students and dropouts in Cambodia miss or leave school to supplement household income.

The pilot created an Early Warning System that draws on school data to identify at-risk students. Schools receive training on how to address the needs of these students, while engaging their parents in a prevention program. This encourages attendance and performance, as well as improving parents’ understanding of the value of school and ways to support their children.

Some target schools also receive a low-cost solar-powered computer lab and computer literacy training, which increase students’ interest and enthusiasm in schooling and emphasize the relevancy of their education to future employability.

The project works in 215 schools and reaches nearly 60,000 students. School community members have paid 15,096 home visits, and more than 17,000 people have attended community meetings about mitigating dropout.

To visit the School Dropout Prevention Lab, click here.


In rural Cambodia, students are frequently torn between attending school and staying at home to help work their parents’ farms. The resulting absenteeism, when chronic, can lead to school dropout, which is especially acute in Grades 7-9. The School Dropout Prevention Pilot, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, seeks to reach those at-risk youth by identifying them through an Early Warning System. Some schools in the pilot also received computer labs to entice student attendance.

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