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Education boost needed: PM

Students in gowns attend a graduation ceremony yesterday on Koh Pich island in Phnom Penh
Students in gowns attend a graduation ceremony yesterday on Koh Pich island in Phnom Penh. Vireak Mai

Education boost needed: PM

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday encouraged Cambodia to pick up the slack on its higher-education system in order to bolster the country’s economic competitiveness.

“Training human resources is necessary to developing the labour market and encouraging investments,” the premier said during the Royal University of Law and Economics’ graduation ceremony in the capital yesterday.

The prime minister has previously spoken up about the low-standards in the higher-education sector, commenting to the National Education Congress that some Cambodian master’s and PhD students are unable to so much as type on computers.

A 2010 World Bank report affirmed that Cambodian students largely lack skills translatable into a competitive workforce: surveyed employers expressed dissatisfaction with Cambodian graduates’ training.

Although the Kingdom’s tertiary education sector has grown drastically, increasing from 10 institutions in 1990 to more than 100, a Cambodian Development Resource Institute report released last year says there is no single governing or monitoring body overseeing the system.

“Compared to other countries in the region, I think the education quality is quite low and the price is quite high,” said Ros Sopheap, executive director of NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia.

The premier praised the Royal University yesterday as producing the kind of results that other institutes should replicate. Nearly 95 per cent of the 7,500 students attaining bachelor’s and master’s certificates at the ceremony held some sort of professional employment, according to a university staff member who lacked authority to speak to the press and asked to remain anonymous.

“I would like to praise [Education Minister] Dr Hang Chuon Naron, even though he is a minister and has a doctorate degree, he returned to earn a master’s degree and wrote a thesis about the concept of maritime dispute between Cambodia and Thailand in the context of the international jurisprudence, which is published both in Khmer and French,” Hun Sen said.

The master’s certificate presented yesterday was the 62-year-old minister’s fourth higher-education degree.

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