Khmer /kmɛər/ or Cambodian (natively ភាសាខ្មែរ [pʰiːəsaː kʰmaːe], or more formally [kʰeɛmaʔraʔ pʰiːəsaː]) is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. With approximately 16 million speakers, it is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language (after Vietnamese). Khmer has been considerably influenced by Sanskrit and Pali, especially in the royal and religious registers, through the vehicles of Hinduism and Buddhism. Education Education in Cambodia is controlled by the State through the Ministry of Education in a national level and by the Department of Education at the provincial level. The Constitution of Cambodia establishes that the State shall protect and upgrade citizen's rights to quality education at all levels, guaranteeing that all citizens have equal opportunity to earn a living (Article 66). The State shall adopt an educational program according to the principle of modern pedagogy including technology and foreign languages, as well as the State controls public and private schools and classrooms at all levels (Article 67). The Cambodian Education System includes pre-school, primary, general secondary, higher education and non-formal education. Phonation Khmer once had a phonation distinction in its vowels, but this now survives only in the most archaic dialect (Western Khmer). The distinction arose historically when vowels after Old Khmer voiced consonants became breathy voiced and diphthongized; for example *kaa, *ɡaa became *kaa, *ɡe̤a. When consonant voicing was lost, the distinction was maintained by the vowel (*kaa, *ke̤a); later the phonation disappeared as well ([kaː], [kiə]). These processes explain the origin of what are now called a-series and o-series consonants in the Khmer script. Phonology The phonological system described here is the inventory of sounds of the standard spoken language,represented using appropriate symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet .