This summer, nearly 30 students from Cambodia, France and Laos will be giving up their holiday – and throwing off the slothful student stereotype – in order to attend the Université des Moussons, (the University of the Monsoons) in Phnom Penh.
Run by the French National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisation in partnership with the Cambodian Royal University of Fine Arts, the three-month long program will qualify the participants for a double diploma in human and social science from both institutions.
Professors will travel from France to teach lessons in art history, linguistics, history, ethnography, French, ancient Khmer and English.
International Cooperation Project Manager at RUFA, Sapho Briand, explained that the purpose of the initiative was to provide Cambodian students with an international perspective and to help develop their academic talent to a level that would enable them to participate on the international stage.
The long term aim is to establish a post-graduate school in social sciences in Cambodia; it will take three years for the first intake to pass through the Université des Moussons program and after that, it is hoped that a Masters course could be introduced.
“We want to build up internationally qualified researchers in Cambodia, so that they are able to conduct research here, without reliance on foreign support,” says Briand. “Cambodians are the people best able to talk about their own culture. They can deeply understand the culture they are researching.”
The Université des Moussons will launch with an opening ceremony on 2 June, at which senior academics and the Head of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie will welcome the programme’s new students.
To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Brown at [email protected]