Top three esays in our ïdeas to lift cambodia” competition. The winner, Hoem Seiha, is pictured below.
“I’ve been seeking for a job since I graduated from college in 2008,” said an ex-student majoring in TEFL at the Institute of Cambodia after two years of his graduation, “but I’ve not been yet offered any position.”
He is not alone. Hundred thousands of university graduates leave school each year, but only a handful of them, representing 13%, are believed by employers to be able to immediately handle a job, reported a CAMFEBA’s 2008 report. The rest will go on another extended year to seek for work, fill the gap of necessary skills, do an internship to gain experience, or turn to a self-employment.
Quality of education still remains far low, while mismatch between skill providers and job demand sides makes higher education far less practical and realistic to the real world of work arena. This is only a small corner of educational issues often reported, but many more angles remain unspoken of. Poor or lack of access to schooling, lack of opportunity of disadvantaged children to gain “basic education”, or child labor that bars many children from going to school in remote communities (like Tonle Sap area) are often overlooked by the media, for instance.
There is always a way out, though. Having an “education watch group” is a small idea, but the gain could be a giant change to the culture of education in Cambodia.
First, there should be a print or online ‘education watchdog’ where a group of educational journalists, monitors and communicators can publish daily news related to educational issues in Cambodia. News can be of a group of high school students talking about their perspectives on pursuing a university degree, a primary school teacher demanding some amount of money from her students on the ground of her low salary, a misconduct of educational providers, or more other interesting educational related news. This news will be beneficial to government’s policy-makers, NGOs, and education providers, who are all looking to further improve this sector.
Aside, “education watchdog” also publishes interesting facts and figures relating to education issues like number of schools in Cambodia, number of disadvantaged children enrolled annually, education system, government and NGO’s actions to education, budget allocation or funding for education sector, plan for future, and so forth. Publishing of analytical feature articles and research on education will be an ideal. Interviews or Q&A pages with and op-ed by educational experts talking about education in particular fields such as low rate of employment amongst graduates could be also of valuable information.
Second, education watchdog can be a forum or ‘arena’ for all students, teachers, educational experts, or other interesting persons to give and share information, criticize, and make suggestions for the improvement of education sector. It also can act as a coordinator to bring related people together to have their say and adapt to each other for the sake of improvement. Policy-makers, educational institutions and NGOs will make some changes or improvement knowing the gaps.
Lastly, education watchdog can also acts as a place where there can be posting of interesting national and international scholarships, job opportunities, local study courses on offer, useful tips for high school students to choose a university course, or how to find a jobs after graduating. This can make ‘education watchdog’ interesting enough to attract a large number of audience to read it and have their say.
Education watchdog is the only way to discover every educational issues, whether trivial or prominent matters, which will then impact education sector as a whole.
To link Cambodian high school and university students with mentors around the world through using online platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Blogging and video sharing websites. These are fantastic channels for young Cambodians to hook into and be exposed to so many new and innovative ideas of how they can apply their skills practically. It will help increase the diversity of professions and career opportunities that are currently available in Cambodia. It will foster entrepreneurship in industries and areas that do not yet exist in Cambodia.
Currently, when Cambodians graduate from degrees in IT, business, finance and banking they need to move to the cities to look for work. It can also be argued that a significant amount of tertiary programs in Cambodia don’t produce graduates that are “job ready”. With the majority of Cambodia’s population being rural this creates increased migration to the cities meaning the job market for these fields becomes highly competitive. This trend is juxtaposed with the increasing Internet access in more rural areas of Cambodia. These two trends generate an opportunity for graduates in the areas of IT and business faculties to stay in the rural location they are from and: develop their own business, consult remotely for international and national organisations, have an active voice/say in their industry or field on a global scale and develop strong industry relationships with people all over the world that will no doubt help mentor and grow their business, concepts and skill base.
By fostering the concept of global mentoring through the world wide web, Cambodia’s youth will already have a strong global network of working professionals and an abundance of career and business ideas by the time they finish their study. They will be ready to ‘hit the ground running’ when they enter the workforce and be active contributors to growing Cambodia’s economy.
Using Cambodian educational institutions to create links with the graduate and alumni networks of their international counterparts may be an effective way of hooking into existing structures to source ‘Global Mentors’ for Cambodia’s youth.
My virtual learning space
When college students face challenges while doing their homework or assignments, who will they turn to? How can we provide a better support for students to ensure that they will become successful learners? These are the flaws in Cambodian higher education system: weak communication within the learning community and lack of intellectual resources and supports for students.
My Virtual Learning Space (MyVLS) will leverage the power of Internet communication as a medium to address the above issues. It will be designed in a form of a website to create a virtual learning space for college students in Cambodia who need help with their study and want to improve their study skills.
The website has two main features. First, it provides useful and relevant information regarding study tips (how to do research, presentation, etc.), scholarships, internships, and job opportunities. The information will be updated regularly, and each week one theme will be selected to discuss in details. The second feature of the website is to create learning communities grouped according to different majors (Business, IT, English, etc.). Students from different universities in Cambodia can share their knowledge and skills and ask for help from one another. If possible, we will also ask for involvement from the teacher side since they know the subjects better and hence will be able to provide more fruitful assistance. Through this sharing platform, we hope that students can build a stronger communication with their peers who share similar interests and with teachers who are the experts in their fields.
Since online learning has not yet been fully embraced in Cambodian higher education system, this idea will be the first step to expand the learning space beyond the classroom so that Cambodian college students can become more independent and lifelong learners.