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Volume 17 Number 2, Summer 2020, Pages 319-757   


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Language-in-education Policy Formation through a Consultation-based System: The Case of Multilingual Curricula in Cambodian Universities

    Chan Hum & Tae-Hee Choi


This paper elucidates the under-researched policy formulation process, using Cambodia as the case context. In the face of ASEAN regionalisation, foreign language education (FLE) in Cambodian universities has become a battlefield of different stakeholders representing varied interests. With languages playing significant roles in economic and political competition among ASEAN countries, scholars (e.g., Andy Kirkpatrick) called for research to investigate the negotiation process of language-in-education policies (LEP). Cambodian FLE in higher education makes a unique case for LEP formation as the process has little prescription on its content except for gaining a consensus among different stakeholders. This study captures the negotiation process, identifying the multiple stakeholders and their roles, and how key contextual features have contributed to it. Drawing on in-depth interviews with decision makers in a focal university at multiple levels of senior management (e.g., vice rectors), mid-leaders (e.g., heads of departments), and individual lecturers, as well as document research, the paper highlights how the attempt to incorporate the demands of numerous stakeholders may marginalise the needs of those taken for granted, i.e., students and university staff. It contributes to LEP debates by shedding light on the issues arising from a rare consultative system, an oft-hoped-for approach, for developing LEP.

Keywords: Language-in-Education Policy (LEP), consultative policy formation, tertiary education, multilingual curriculum, Cambodia