Cambodia has sent “more than 1,200 students” to study in France in the past three decades, most of whom have returned home to support local development, according to Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron on May 19.

The minister presented this figure at a gathering of members of France Alumni – a social and professional network generally for graduates of French higher education.

The meeting was also attended by agriculture minister Dith Tina and his justice counterpart Koeut Rith – both of whom graduated from French schools – as well as Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi.

The education ministry has partnered with the French embassy since 2017 to provide scholarships to students who wish to study in France, especially those vying for post-graduate degrees in science and technology, Chuon Naron said.

“Twenty-seven of our students have studied for their doctorates in France; some have graduated and others are still enrolled. Generally speaking, we can claim that our students who graduate from French schools return home and support Cambodia’s development,” he said.

The education minister advised anyone wanting to attend school in France to be determined in their studies and have a strong command of the language.

French ambassador Jacques Pellet stated during the occasion that France and Cambodia have solid educational ties.

These bonds are greatly influenced by collaboration between the French National Research, Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and Cambodian universities.

The agriculture minister tweeted after the gathering: “France Alumni event 2023 at residence of France in Phnom Penh. Thank you France and long live the Franco-Khmer friendship!”

According to the education ministry, the France Alumni network was created in 2014 and now boasts more than 370,000 members worldwide.