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UK backs STEM push

Young Cambodians will be urged to consider a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), through a joint initiative launched yesterday by the Ministry of Education, the British Embassy and the international employment and training organisation IDP Education.

The STEM Ambassadors program will see a network of volunteer professionals from related industries tour the country to advocate and mentor among high-school students in four provinces, as well as Phnom Penh.

“STEM fields are vital for the future of Cambodia,” said British Ambassador Bill Longhurst. “Whether as a way for Cambodia to raise its productivity, or more importantly to climb up the global value chain thereby increasing the wage and the living standards of its people.”

According to the Ministry of Education, only 3 per cent of the 250,000 post-secondary graduates in 2014 came from technical disciplines like agriculture, science and engineering, with close to half the country’s university students currently enrolled in business-related fields.

“Cambodia needs more young people skilled and qualified in [STEM] subjects to develop our human resources, the economy, and drive our nation’s development,” said Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron.

Program organisers were not available to comment on the cost of the initiative, but Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Salin said that broadening investment in STEM education in Cambodia would include public and private financing.

“Part of developing STEM industries is working with donor partners as well as the private sector,” he said.

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