A Francophone educational organization last week officially relaunched the
Institute of Technology with a $6.5 million grant, promising to make it one of
the top colleges in South East Asia which will eventually be capable of
attracting foreign students.
A simple ceremony performed at the first
meeting of the new board of governors reverted the college's name back to
L'Institut de Technologie du Cambodge. after it was given a Russian name under
the Hun Sen regime.
Under the college's new leadership students will work from French-language
textbooks and the majority of lessons will be conducted in French. English
lessons will be on offer to the students as well as engineering courses.
In a French-language brochure issued by the new board of governors the
college is described as "an educational establishment for teaching superior
technical expertise and a dynamic technological center to contribute to the
development of Cambodia and the region.
"At the hour when Cambodia feels the urgent need of qualified technicians to
take charge of its reconstruction, the Institute of Technology is in the
forefront of superior teaching establishments in achieving two aims. Firstly,
training qualified technical workers who will be capable of taking
responsibility in their fields and second to become a regional technological
center capable of stimulating the development of the countries of Southeast
Asia, the Pacific and Cambodia in particular."
The Institute re-opened six months ago and now has 1075 students and last
week's meeting was to map its future course.
Of the $6.5 million grant from L'Agence Francophone pour l'Enseignement
Superieur et la Recherche, (AUPELF-UREF), $800,000 will go towards the
restoration of the college building. In addition the United Nations Development
Program has donated $500,000.
The Francophone aid group moved in following a plea by the Royal Cambodian
Government in September 1993 for help in restoring the college
The college offers three-year diploma courses for technicians and five year
diploma courses for engineers to students aged 18 and over. The reformed college
has five departments in civil engineering, rural engineering, chemical and
agricultural engineering, electronic engineering and industrial and mines
The Project Leader, Frenchman Bernard Cavaille, will be responsible for the
day-to-day running of the college. He said that 1,500 technical books had been
bought from France, Belgium and Canada.
The new board of Governors will
be chaired by a Cambodian, Ouy Vanthon and has a French director-general, Michel
Guillou. There are 16 members, seven Cambodians, three French, two Canadians, a
Belgian, a Tunisian, and a Lebanese.
Despite the new board's bold plans
for the future there remain quaint reminders of the institute's past during the
Around the building all the signs are still in Russian, and
there is even a painting of the Kremlin and St Basil's cathedral. At the top of
the staircase is a fascinating panel of faded black and white photographs with
Russian text depicting the chaos after the Pol Pot regime and the gradual
recovery and reconstruction of the institute with Russian help.
taking all these relics down," said Guillou. "But of course the photographs will
become important archive material."
The institute was founded in 1963
with Russian aid. Until 1975 classes were taught in French by Soviet professors
in five main areas: construction, hydrology, electricity, mining and chemistry.
After 1979, courses were taught in Russian, by 80 Soviet professors, who trained
1,500 technicians and engineers. The political changes within the then-Soviet
Union in 1991 affected the institute, and staff were withdrawn. By 1993 the only
teachers were 10 Russian UN volunteers.