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Graduates wait to receive university certificates for the completion of their degrees yesterday at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

PM defends degrees

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday hit back at criticism of national university degrees made earlier this month by Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Sam Rainsy, claiming that the opposition leader had insulted the country’s education system.

“I really don’t understand a politician who sends out a political message humiliating degrees awarded in this country,” said the prime minister during a ceremony conferring certificates on 1,700 university students. “This means that people in the country have no value, including voters and members of the opposition party.”

The comments came following an event at CNRP’s headquarters on October 4 at which the foreign-educated Rainsy disparaged Cambodian degrees as something to simply “stick on the wall”, promising to make education reform a priority if elected.

However, Hun Sen affirmed the value of degrees awarded by the Kingdom’s universities for young Cambodians as well as for opposition members themselves. “How many people have graduated abroad?” he said during yesterday’s ceremony. “It is a very important point that people in the CNRP also graduated in Cambodia.”

Chea Vannath, an independent Cambodian analyst, said that although recent reforms have seen improvements to the national education system, it could not compete with the quality of education available privately or abroad.

“If compared to expensive private universities in the country, I think that students graduating from state universities continue to fall short of international standards,” Vannath said.



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