The three winning students lay out their plans for how to fix the Kingdom’s ailing education system
The Cambodian Students Association in Japan was originally established in December 1994 to bring together Cambodians studying in Japan to improve their home country and build a platform for cultural exchange between Japanese, Cambodian, and other foreign students.
In their efforts to help lift Cambodian society, CSAJ holds 3 charity events each year, funded mainly by donors in Japan. Each year the give study materials to needy students through their rural primary school fund, give a cash reward to Cambodian youth who have innovative solutions to help their community, helping them put their ideas into action, and hold an annual essay contest. For more information about CASJ, go to csaj-khmer.org.
The CSAJ Essay Contest
The following three essays were selected out of 88 essays that were submitted. The three winners of the third annual CASJ essay contest answered the question “What are the main problems in Cambodian education system? What should we do to solve those problems?” These abstracts of their essays have been edited for grammar, clarity and length.
Ms Preung Sokun Osakphea
School: Toul Tom Pong High School & ACE
Despite the many projects and plans to improve education in Cambodia in recent years, the Khmer education system still faces many problems. Financial problems have built a structure of corruption in Cambodia’s academic structure. Low teacher salaries cause them to take bribes, and those students who do not have the ability to pay are forced to drop out of schools. More money is needed to build more schools for students in rural area, so that parents can see the importance of schools first-hand and encourage their children to get an education rather than working in the rice field.
It is not only the government, but also the people’s responsibility to help achieve these improvements. We must cooperate in gathering funds and supplies that we can donate to schools and the poor. We have to help people living in poverty get education so that they can raise their living standards in the future. Finally, many advertisements should be run to teach the people the significance of education and the equality between males and females. Education is a road to prosperity. Better education means better country and better society.
Mr Nguon Soksan
School: University of Cambodia
Today, the national education system is yet to meet the demands of society, making them unable to respond to global development trends. The fact remains that the sector faces a great deal of challenges, which inevitably obstruct the intellectual capital development as well as have negative impacts on social prosperity. The already limited numbers of university students often study subjects which are unrelated to society’s demands, which leads to inadequate human resources and impedes Cambodia’s development and construction.
As most Cambodian students are studying service industry subjects – including marketing, accounting, and management – a narrow labor market will push up unemployment even further. Ignorance about other more important issues will inevitably result in a weak capacity of Cambodia’s public and private sector to formulate sound national development policy and plans. There are valuable resources in Cambodia, but are currently buried treasures, and until Cambodia develops its human capital they will provide limited economic advantages. If Cambodians do not catch up now, they will fall further behind other members of the ASEAN states.
An effective mechanism needs to be applied. Proper allocation of a greater portion of the national budget and effective mobilisation of funds from international donors and the private sector should be applied to improve public universities, increase state-supported scholarships and raise teachers’ salaries. This will enable more rural students to get access to higher education and contribute to the eradication of corruption in the educational field.
The Education Foundation Package, requiring all tycoons in the country to contribute a small share of their vast sums of money, should be launched and used for security and investment purposes. More importantly, incentive programmes should be set up for students who study in agricultural and technical fields, since a higher number of agricultural experts will bring higher living standards and ultimately better education for their children. Together, we have to build up the quality of the Kingdom’s human resources to serve our national interests.
Mr. Poeu Vannarath
School: Preah Sisowat High School
If we look to examples from the past, we can see that education has been an invaluable weapon for mankind. Not only has it played a major role in the development of every country in the world, it can be argued that the prosperity of a country depends completely on the state of the education system in that country.
We currently lack resources for our education system; however, I believe that we can overcome these obstacles to improve. We need to face the challenging tasks of eradicating extreme poverty, clearing out corruption, enforcing the law and expanding high-quality education. All of Cambodia’s people, including the government and ordinary citizens, must unite to deal with these problems before our country can develop further.