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Cambodian education lags behind

Dear Editor,

In Peter Tan Keo’s comment in the Post (November 11), in the final topic he stated that “there’s a growing number of very talented college-educated students” with whom he has worked.

I too have worked with many of these students for 19 years in Phnom Penh, as a physics graduate from London University. These students are certainly bright and talented, but in the present situation they cannot compete with the best, just because the opportunities are so rare.

Mr. Keo goes on to say that there should be a focus on the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). I could not agree more.

Not only are these the backbone of any developed society, but a search of the websites on “UK Stem Teaching” makes the statement that the STEM fields today actually drive the economy, and the increased focus on these fields is largely responsible for the beginning of the recent unexpected improvement of the UK economy.

These students here today do not stand a chance, as long as the Ministry of Education teaches these STEM options using the textbooks that were written a very long time ago, and are not appropriate in the 21st century.

In all my teaching here (in the English language) I use the Foundational Physics Course that we developed at the University of NSW (Australia), whose source was a set of the American university text books used worldwide.

These Foundation courses are common in every university and have been brought down to a level of difficulty appropriate for students in Grades 10, 11 and 12.

The other, simpler option is for the ministry to make contact with the Singaporean Ministry of Education to see how and why Singapore is always in the top two or three countries in the world in science and mathematics education.

Of course, Singapore did have Lee Kuan Yew at the helm, and Cambodia has not been so lucky.

Jerry Walter



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