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Nobel laureate to push PM on school reform

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Economist and Nobel laureate Eric Maskin speaks at the Hotel Cambodiana on Tuesday.

A NOBEL Prize-winning economist said Tuesday that he intends to discuss the “critical” gap between rich and poor, and emphasise the importance of improving the national education system when he meets with Prime Minister Hun Sen later this week.

Professor Eric Maskin, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2007, is scheduled to meet with the premier on Thursday as part of the International Peace Foundation’s “Bridges for Peace” lecture programme.

In an interview Tuesday, he said he believed the rapid economic growth Cambodia experienced prior to the global economic downturn had left the country with a severe skills gap because the rich had disproportionately benefited from access to education.

It will be necessary to close the chasm that resulted in order to improve the Kingdom’s economic prospects, he said.

“I think education is critically important for Cambodia. I don’t think an economy can truly prosper when an equality gap is too high,” he said.

“It can be a socially and politically disruptive force if people are living in such different circumstances, and I’m afraid the gap between rich and poor will continue to grow.”

He added: “I’d like to raise this with Hun Sen. I feel strongly that on the basis of the evidence and the data that education has to be a priority of the government in development.”

Maskin will deliver a lecture titled “Why Global Markets Fail to Reduce Equality” at the University of Cambodia today at 2pm.

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