Event this week:
What: Water and Life conference
When: Saturday, March 20, 2010, from 8-11am Where: Cambodian Japanese Cooperation Center at the Institute of Foreign Languages
How much: free of charge
Who: 500 youths will join ENRICH, an independent, non-profit, non-political and non-religious club for young English-speaking students that is devoted to helping Cambodia’s youth, especially university students, reach their fullest potential.
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After 12 years of hard work in primary and secondary school and a high school degree, the next step for motivated students is to go to university. However, for students in the provinces who have aspirations of pursuing a career that requires university, it can be difficult to make the move to higher education.
For students who live in the provinces, especially those without a lot of money, there are many forces preventing them from getting a degree. For example, students in Preah Vihear province are forced to leave for Phnom Penh or a more nearby province to go to university. “Because we have no university in Preah Vihear, my friends and I have to leave home to go to university and some of us have to stop our studies.” said Visal Bout, currently a third-year Khmer literature student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
Most aspiring provincial students want to go to university in Phnom Penh; however, the difficulty of maintaining a high living standard in a new environment and a new city sometimes makes them pull out and go back home. “I can’t afford to study in this city environment, so I came back to my province to attend a university with lower standards.” said Cheng Chan Sour from Sihanouk province.
Students from the provinces who want to stay closer to home have only a few choices, since there are a limited number of universities in the provinces. “Some of my students have gone to study in Phnom Penh, a few are still in the province, and others have stopped so they can start working.” said Lim Polla, a high school teacher at Hun Sen Mittapheap High School in Sihanouk province.
Most students are unable to study in university because of financial problems, as university fees are still unreasonable for their families budgets. “I stopped studying after finishing high school because I have no money to support myself,” said one student.
In some ways, high school students in Cambodia are gaining more opportunities. However, they have no money to continue their university degrees. According to the government scholarship guideline book from the Ministry of Youth and Sports; the scholarships given to students will prioritise poor students and those from distant rural areas, but only time will tell if these guidelines inspire change in the provinces.