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‘Can Rainsy even write Khmer?’ minister muses

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Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron talks to the media earlier this year in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

‘Can Rainsy even write Khmer?’ minister muses

Responding to shots taken at Cambodia’s education system by opposition leader Sam Rainsy, the Minister of Education yesterday questioned the long-term expat’s Khmer literacy.

In the video, Rainsy promised to make educational reform a high priority if elected and slammed the value of degrees awarded in the Kingdom.

“Cambodian degrees are given left and right, what use are they if they have no quality? To stick on a wall?” he asked rhetorically, characterising the education system as “very weak”.

Speaking at an event at the Cambodia Institute of Technology yesterday, Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron responded to the remarks, citing improvement over the past 15 years of relative stability, then launched a personal attack on Rainsy, who has spent much of his life in France.

“The attack is vain; he is a politician that only speaks but never acts,” he said, adding that Rainsy’s foreign education means he does not value the Kingdom’s.

“We are not sure that he knows how to write Khmer very well,” Naron continued before promising renewed attention to teacher training and better salaries in 2016.

San Chey, coordinator of ANSEA-EAP – a social accountability NGO – said Rainsy’s criticism applies to higher education, which has seen “no change”, but was unfair given high school exam and curricula reforms.

Chey suggested that if Rainsy has a reform policy in mind, then “why not work together with the Ministry of Education and do it”.

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