The NGO Forum on Cambodia yesterday demanded government funding for higher education for indigenous students to mark World Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Director Tek Vannara, speaking at an event to mark the occasion in Kampong Speu province, said that there are still very few indigenous students who have the opportunity to pursue higher education, and lamented a lack of commitment by teachers sent to areas with significant indigenous populations.
“We observed many teachers do not teach regularly or finish the curriculum,” he later said in an interview.
Vannara also maintained that educating indigenous children could “improve the entire indigenous community”.
“They will have the ability to lead their community,” Vannara said, adding that communities could “hire educated indigenous people who already know the culture instead of outsiders who have to learn about their problems”.
Tep Tim, an ethnic Kuoy villager from Preah Vihear province, said yesterday that only a fraction of indigenous youth in her community were able to pursue higher education.
“We want our children to become the teachers and doctors and come back to work in the local village,” Tim said.
Ros Salin, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, could not be reached yesterday, but on August 1, Prime Minister Hun Sen wrote a letter stating that the government already provides funding to indigenous students for higher education at an appropriate rate.
Additional reporting by Andrew Nachemson