The “teacher as a colony”: Cambodian cases of fabrication and self-empowerment

Takayo Ogisu, Eisuke Saito

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


In many Asian countries, neo-liberal policies tend to be introduced under a hierarchical bureaucratic structure and in a top-down manner, which multiplies pressure on teachers. This is also the case in Cambodia, the focus of this study, where child-centred pedagogies are introduced, resulting in teachers competing with each other in the form of school ranking system, rather than valuing autonomy of the teachers. In this study, we will discuss Cambodian cases of teachers’ responses towards the introduction of such child-centred pedagogical policies. An approach called the “teacher as a colony” (Saito et al., 2016) is employed as the theoretical framework. In this framework, in order to deconstruct such competitive and hierarchical policies, teachers’ responses to these policies are divided into three categories – pro-colonisation, which involves seeking self-promotion by actively undertaking the policies; anti-colonisation, which entails either actively fighting against or passively disengaging from the policies; and decolonisation, which puts more emphasis on caring for children and colleagues – to deconstruct the policies. The results of this study reveal two types of responses by the Cambodian teachers. The first is a combination of active and passive anti-colonisation, whereby teachers value their ranks and reputations, but simultaneously quietly disengage from the policies because of concerns about the increased time costs. In such cases, the teachers are likely to conduct one-way and whole-class teaching. The second response is decolonisation, whereby teachers expend their own financial and time resources to prepare special materials with which to cater to their pupils’ needs. According to the results of study, while such teachers are not well received by the bureaucracy, they do demonstrate their own autonomy in order to best serve for their pupils in the classrooms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransformation and Empowerment through Education
Subtitle of host publicationReconstructing our Relationship with Education
EditorsRaqib Chowdhury
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780429431050
ISBN (Print)9781138364851
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this

Ogisu, T., & Saito, E. (2019). The “teacher as a colony”: Cambodian cases of fabrication and self-empowerment. In R. Chowdhury (Ed.), Transformation and Empowerment through Education: Reconstructing our Relationship with Education (1st ed., pp. 232-251). Routledge.