Cambodia: Literacy by Listening


Bible Society Cambodia (BSC) launched The Learning Through Listening literacy project in 2003 to teach people how to read, by reading the Bible. Each year the program empowers non-literate people so they can read the Scriptures for their own personal growth and contribute more effectively to their communities.


Illiteracy exposes Cambodian people to shame and exploitation and keeps people in poverty. Many of the youth and adult populations of rural Cambodia have not had the opportunity to receive a quality education due to the nation’s history of devastating war and genocide. Teachers are paid very low salaries, particularly in rural areas, where many only teach their students for two hours a day so they can earn additional income elsewhere.

The general literacy level in Cambodia is 80.5 per cent. The most non-literate people in Cambodia are those who are hard to reach (remote populations, ethnic minorities, migrants, and people with disabilities), and this accounts for the slow improvement rate in literacy.

The net enrolment ratio for Primary School students in Cambodia is high (98.2 per cent), but the attendance rate is lower (between 83-85 per cent). United Nations data suggests that only 61.3 per cent of children complete primary school. Secondary school attendance drops dramatically to around 40 per cent.

Additionally, most churches are still quite poor, with an average of 75 per cent of Cambodian church leaders not being paid for their work. Illiteracy continues to block many Cambodian Christians and seekers from accessing the Scriptures for themselves.


  • The general literacy level in Cambodia is 80.5 per cent.
  • Only 61.3% of students complete primary school (UN data) despite a 98.2% net enrolment ratio.
  • The adult literacy rate in Cambodia is 84.47% and 70.53% for male and female respectively.

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