Photo by: KOAM TIVEA
Handing down history from one generation to the next.
Although many students do not see a lucrative future in studying history, there are still many people in the Kingdom who spend their lives studying history and support themselves and their families as experts in Cambodian history.
In order to ensure that Cambodian society does not lose touch with its past, Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) has been giving history degrees to students for decades.
“People should care about Cambodian history and identity,” said Ngin Vuth, the head of department of history at Royal University of Phnom Penh “they should understand Cambodian economy, society, war and how the king got into power in the past from one generation to another.”
Royal University of Phnom Penh is the only public school that provides students with scholarships to pursue their bachelors degree in history, with 40 scholarships awarded each year, however there are other opportunities to get a history degree.
With the purpose of helping Cambodian people know more about Khmer history and the relationship between Cambodia and foreign countries, Khemarak University offers a history degree as well. Ka Mathul said that most of private universities do not offer history degrees since they don’t think it fits with the job market today.
“Some other private universities are not interested in history degree,” said Ka Mathul. “Wealthy students want to pursue degrees in economics, law, finance and so on, while poor students from provinces tend to take social degrees like history and sociology”
Norton University is one of many schools in the country who have decided against providing history degrees. Oum Vanntheoun, vice rector of Norton University, said that history is important for people to learn but that the council of the university decided to offer degrees focused on majors which are in higher demand.
“We provide history classes only in the foundation year since history graduates find it hard to find jobs,” said Oun Vanntheoun.
Despite the fact that a graduate with a history degree may not have an obvious place in today’s job market, they can still work as researchers, teachers, lecturers, tour guides or in social work for both national and international organizations.
Chea Sopheap is a 26-year-old working as a research analyst at Bophana Center after spending four years getting his history degree at university.
He said that a history degree is crucially important for understanding the past, which can lead to a better construction of the country’s future. “It will not be difficult to find a job if we are qualified after finishing university degree,” said Chea Sopheap, originally from Kampong Cham province.
Ngin Vuth said that 60 percent of students who graduate from RUPP’s history major become teachers. However, if students speak good English they can also get scholarships to pursue their masters or doctor of Philosophy in countries such as Thailand, Japan, Korea, and France.
Sreng Leng finished his bachelors degree in history in 2008 is now pursuing his master’s degree at Sogang University in South Korea.
“With valuable experience and education obtained abroad, I will educate the people and help to develop human resources to an international standard,” said Sreng Leng.