Photo by: NATHAN GREEN
Hy Sovanna says students must study hard and strive to get ahead to succeed.
As a student pursuing two university degrees at the same time, I have always cared about my future. I am not quite sure what will become of me when I graduate from my universities, due to the current quality of education in the country.
Evidently, not only I but also many other students are concerned about the quality of education. I am not alone.
At the same time, whenever I glance at my city, I realise it is changing, taking on a new, better face, in a remarkable way, but our education standards remain questionable.
Situations in high schools, especially, really prove the point. From my personal observation, quite a number of students have developed a habit of skipping school to hang out with their peers, riding motorcycles along the riverside and hanging care-free along the street until it's time to go home.
This is definitely wrong, that students who will grow up to support the backbone of the nation in the future are allowed to commit such acts.
Another flaw in our education is that high schools in Cambodia do not even have adequately qualified teachers, who have real paedagogy to teach students. If teachers do not even know how to teach or have not been equipped with the right teaching methodologies, it is hard for students to learn well and to feel motivated to keep learning.
Some teachers, with whom I used to study during my high school years, were not really knowledgeable enough to teach. They seemed lazy and very poorly motivated, which may somehow result from their low salaries. They clearly lacked energy, willingness and the desire to carry out their responsibilities.
For example, when the class started, the teachers talked around the lessons or they just read, skipping some parts, and superficially explained.
With this care-free, reckless behaviour, most students were usually not well-informed enough to do well in exams, which resulted in students cheating and bribing, for example.
If you do not understand, will you enjoy your study? No. Likewise, from day to day, I just sat and kept listening although I did not know what they were talking about.
Also, bribery and unreasonable payments demanded from students are so common that it has become a culture amongst most public-school teachers.
For instance, with all exams, teachers will definitely gain a lot from the students, by in advance selling documents about what is going to appear on actual exam paper and selling the test paper on the exam day.
These buying-and-selling habits, peeping at answer sheets and other forms of cheating are ignored and somehow encouraged. Money the students get from their parents goes to cover their daily expenses, to the teachers, and to be saved.
At the end of month, they would be in the class and negotiate with teachers whether or not teachers can do something about their absences.
They would give teachers some of their money for eliminating absences; therefore, they need not be concerned that they could not take the tests.
Remarkably, if students want to pass the exam without testing, they can possibly do it by bribing the teacher, who will ensure doing all exams for them.
Besides bribery in the class, loose school rules are also a major point that enables some students do anything they want in class. Students generally come late or are absent from school many times, but are not punished.
The regulations are already in place, but they do not influence them. People break regulations and are not penalised. So they feel secure after doing something wrong. It sounds as if no one really wants to abide by the rules.
Universities also have similar issues as the high schools. Some lecturers are able to teach in one university because of family connections, not due to the real education, teaching experience and pedagogy.
It is unbelievable that some schools do not care about the future of students. They care only about profit. Some students gain nothing from classes, which waste time as teachers just read through - and what can they do if they already paid money? If they complain to school directors, they will give them the cold shoulder.
Moreover, students lack research skills. Cambodian students seldom go to the library to find important books to read when they have free time. They usually spend their time doing useless things like riding motorcycles or going to a karaoke club and so forth.
As we can see, several problems are holding back improvements to the quality of our education.
After expressing my opinion about the poor quality of education, I still believe our education will be enhanced to the standards of other countries and every student will get a proper job after graduation.
Having a higher quality of human resources can make a society run more smoothly.
I am a student - I cannot solve this problem. I can only express my feelings. All I can do just strive to study hard and be a volunteer for organisations such as AIESEC, which is the international organisation developing leadership skill and international exchange.
I succeeded in the first step in building my leadership skills recently when I became the vice president of incoming exchange in AIESEC. It has changed my entire life through the amazing international experiences. Everyone should volunteer, in any places, in order to gain experience.
If you just learn through theory without practising, it is worthless. You will forget it soon.
Practice begets success!
Hy Sovanna is a student at Pannasastra University of Cambodia. He is also vice president of incoming exchange for the international youth leadership platform AISEC.