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Cambodian research lagging

A general view from the entrance of the Royal University of Phnom Penh campus two, where the research centre of the Royal Academy of Cambodia is based.
A general view from the entrance of the Royal University of Phnom Penh campus two, where the research centre of the Royal Academy of Cambodia is based. Leng Len

Cambodian research lagging

Cambodia’s academic research environment has entered a transition phase as young, eager scholars begin pushing against entrenched barriers within the Kingdom’s tertiary institutions to undertake their own studies, according to a report released yesterday.

The report aimed to map the Kingdom’s social research environment and, through its methodology, provide a model for researchers to follow in their own work.

Led by the Cambodian Institute for Peace and Cooperation (CIPC), the study involved interviews with students and those working in the sector, a review of relevant regulations and an assessment of current research work by higher education institutions, NGOs and the government.

It found that a lack of well-trained researchers and support were the two major obstacles to improving the quality and quantity of domestic studies.

Furthermore, a lack of access to information, particularly from state sources, as well as sensitivity around political subjects also stifled scholars, while tertiary institutions often showed bias towards male researchers.

CIPC’s Pou Sovachana presented the findings to students and researchers yesterday at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

He said the Kingdom’s vibrant NGO sector provided good opportunities for research, though studies supported by international donors were sometimes too short-term focused, agenda-driven and reliant on consultants.

Contrary to the attitude of government officials and some administrators that there was “no interest” in undertaking research among students, most of those interviewed expressed eagerness, the report noted.

“The core of any developing country should be good, social research,” Sovachana told students. “When you start thinking, you start creating.”

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