Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



Few qualitative studies have been done in Cambodia, a country held hostage by the murderous Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Still struggling to recover from these atrocities, Cambodia looks to education to aid in its redevelopment. This ethnographically-informed case study describes the professional literacy life of a female Cambodian primary school teacher in the post Pol Pot era. This study describes this woman’s professional and personal life as she strives to build literacy in a small village. Her work is considered in the context of her colleagues and village. Additionally, the research portrays forces that impact literacy development, ways in which literacy is exhibited in this village, juxtaposing one Cambodian teacher’s literacy practice with the community literacies that surround her. Using both Paulo Freire’s work and a feminist lens as suggested by Sara Lawrence- Lightfoot, field work was conducted in Cambodia using a variety of data sources: observations, interviews, a focus group, casual conversations, and document analysis. Analyzing these data using the Portraiture Approach resulted in a complex picture of this teacher’s professional life within the village and school and of ways literacy is shared in rural areas of the developing country. Findings from this case study reveal a rich foundation on which to build literacy within Cambodian while also addressing the needs voiced by this participant teacher and her fellow rural teachers. Based on this research, specific recommendations are suggested to Cambodian officials seeking to develop a literate nation and other recommendations are made for those United States agencies and nongovernmental organizations interested in assisting Cambodian teachers and schools.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Sulentic Dowell, Margaret-Mary



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Education Commons